Meanings of colors across cultures

A dancer at the Attachamayam in Tripunithra in Kerala by Anoop Negi

indian color festival

Colors  not only reflect the light & bring the scala of shades, they trigger our perception and help us to perceive images along with the emotions. Hence, I strongly believe colors do have soul. They let us to think, to judge, to  get inspired, to recall, to feel and shortly make us sense the images. Just looking at a color we may feel heat or cold, fear or happiness, love or hatred, simplicity or complication and many many more that I can take the list to thousands of sensational verbs…

When I look at the photo critics/comments in sites, I realize the major critic generally goes to issues related to light and color. So it is true we perceive everything in color first. We even say sometimes this image or scene made me feel this and that way!!! Did u ever think why? Could it be the reason, we as human beings mark all the major things in to our lives in colors along with the festivals, ceremonies, rituals, wars etc… ?? On behalf of all, don’t you agree colors across the cultures do have the strongest symbolic power?  It is true during the mankind history we paint our souls in colors, associated with our rituals and engraved the feelings deep into our genes hence the moment we see a color we have a feel about it. Colors indeed do play an important role in our lives more than we may even think of.  Fashion industry evolves around the color themes and marketing experts know exactly how to use them towards to consumers. Do you know these days psychotherapists treat people in color? First think first always colors come first, than the other details. Think about that….

We all do have favorite color, did u ever think why? Where is that coming from?? Eventough, there are personal color tendencies, in general color meanings  do change according to social background of each cultures group. I was amazed when I saw  the colors in culture wheel  how cultures actually evaluate colors in a different way and bridging them with their past, local experiences … Therefore, I wanted to share this interesting and wonderful graph with you which is the outcome of a through of color culture study…

meaning of colors according to cultures

Color meanings around the World.


•Good luck and fortune: China and parts of Africa

•Danger, warning/alert: Europe, America and Australia/New Zealand

•Masculinity: Parts of Europe

•Mourning (dark red): Ivory Coast

•Virginity: Turkey


•Immortality: Iran


•Mourning: Brazil

•Symbol of expense: Asian cultures

•Organic foods, freshness, environmentally friendly, good health: Many Western nations


•High-tech: Japan

•Luck: Middle East

•A forbidden color: Indonesia

•Death: South America and countries with dense jungle areas


•Feminine: United States and many countries

•Mourning: Mexico

•Strength and reliability: Saudi Arabia


•Feminine: United States


•Mourning as well as style and elegance: Most Western nations

•Trust and high quality: China


•Mourning: Japan and other Far Eastern nations

•Cleanliness and purity: Western nations


•Disapproval: Nicaragua

Ref. Foundations of Marketing by Jonathan Groucutt:

A dancer at the Attachamayam in Tripunithra in Kerala by Anoop Negi
A dancer at the Attachamayam in Tripunithra in Kerala by Anoop Negi

When I look at the photos showing daily life scenes, textiles, architecture or rituals  from different parts of the world  I get so excited cause I expose myself to different and unusual. The surprising and striking colors  and combinations make me look at things from different window nothing like the one I get used to.. That proves me again, not everything I was born with or learned from my local culture  is actually the one and only truth… How exciting to know how much I have more to discover and learn in the process…

wedding day for a traditional ceremony in the village of Donje Ljubinje, Kosovo
wedding day for a traditional ceremony in the village of Donje Ljubinje, Kosovo image by Valdrin Xhemaj via photoblog msnbc.

Based on these facts, I think colors actually can be the best educational tool for humanity to play with social memories and instead of judging, helping to understand better of another. Don’t you agree?

color festival india
a young indian dressed in color image via pinterest

The beautiful images that I posted here in this post, do have striking colors symbolizing different values for cultures from around the world. Each and every other  means something else; like laughter, celebration, belief, style, wisdom, wealth and many other, but there is one thing in common, they show us how rich the world culture is. As long as we bring the beauty of the ethnic variations together and we learn to understand them with love than we will really be able to see and appreciate the world of color better. That day creation process will not have any limit, cause there will be no judgements but instead tolerance and we will have a larger pallette to color the world.  Afterall life is better in colors not in black and white, not in grey but in full color. Please not learn to look at life in greys rather learn to look at in full color spectrum for the sake of humanity and abundance of  life!

Quecha bride
Bride and groom, The Quechua Indians of the central Andes are the direct descendants of the Incas ….
Tribal Adornments, Kenya
Colorful tribal Beads Adornments, Kenya image via pinterest
Colorful Antique Anatolian dresses
Colorful folkloric dresses Anatolian people
anatolian kilim
A typical colorful kilim symbolizing cultural story of Anatolia
monks wearing saffron color fabric in Laos
Monks in Laos wear bright saffron color fabrics.  Saffron color represents fire and as impurities are burnt by fire, this color symbolizes purity. It also represents religious abstinence.
guru india
In Hinduism,  yellow is the color of knowledge and learning. It symbolizes happiness, peace, meditation, competence and mental development. It is the color of spring and activates the mind. image via pinterest
Fulani Woman, Mali
Fulani bride wearing big 22 karat gold earrings Mali. In Africa,  yellow color symbolizes sanctity, preciousness, royalty, wealth, spirituality, vitality and fertility. image via pinterest
TIBET Nomad Boy
Nomad Boy, Tibet wearing colorful hat and brown rob in natural dye image photo by steve mccurry
memories of Geisha, Vogue
In Japanese culture, kuro (black) is a symbol of nobility, age, and experience. It reflects style, sophistication and class as well. image via Vogue

“Meanings of colors across cultures” için 6 cevap

    • Thank you Karin! Very happy that you liked the post:) The subject is indeed very interesting while I was making research about all, I came across many interesting stuff. Now, I want to write more about this subject I have collected great ideas. It actually takes a whole book to talk about it…Wishing you a great week ahead! Love, Tijen

  1. There are some cultures and tribes that do not separate colors in the way we do some will actually consider green and blue the same color no this is an example and I don’t remember exactly. It has been awhile since I’ve studied this but I learned it in a cognitive psychology course that also included some social psychology and someone who’s had to take a lot of psychology might have come across and has more information please post that here. If you’re interested in this article you would find the information you could learn about this also very interesting to read about. It shouldn’t be too hard to Google somehow under perception of color maybe unique perception color I don’t know cognitive might be a good keyword pull up this information. But you got to be in the information drunk he’d even care enough to go that far are you? On an average day you’re a go I would have more information to tell you cuz I would find it I hope you understand it’s just a difficult time in life to deal with it. I just thought I would throw the idea out there in case somebody was interested to look. and maybe I will when I’m having a better day and come back and post this correctly with information to follow up.

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