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Color Symbolism Chart by Culture

Understand the Meanings of Color in Various Cultures Around the World

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red, pink, orange, gold, yellow

red, pink, orange, gold, yellow

Image courtesy J Kyrnin
green, blue, light blue, purple, violet

green, blue, light blue, purple, violet

Image courtesy J Kyrnin
white, black, gray, silver, brown

white, black, gray, silver, brown

Image courtesy J Kyrnin

If you use color on your website, then you should be aware of how your audience views those colors. This is especially important if you are designing a site that is intended for an audience of a different culture than your own (or a global audience). The cultural basis for color symbolism can be very powerful, and if you don't understand what you're saying with your colors, you can make big mistakes.

The below chart lists colors and meanings that various different cultures associate with those colors. Note that in some cases, the color is also associated with another “thing” such as a “white dove” in western cultures symbolizes peace. Also, sometimes it’s the color in combination with another color that creates the association, such as red and green symbolizing Christmas in the west. This information is noted below.

Learn more about color symbolism

Red

  • Australian Aboriginals: Land, earth
  • Celtic: Death, afterlife
  • China: Good luck, celebration, summoning
  • Cherokees: Success, triumph. Represents the East.
  • Hebrew: Sacrifice, sin
  • India: Purity
  • South Africa: Color of mourning
  • Russia: Bolsheviks and Communism
  • Eastern: Worn by brides, happiness and prosperity
  • Western: Excitement, danger, love, passion, stop, Christmas (with green), Valentine’s Day
  • Astrology: Gemini
  • Feng Shui: Yang, fire, good luck, money, respect, recognition, vitality
  • Psychology: Stimulates brain wave activity, increases heart rate, increases blood pressure
  • Roses: Love, respect — red and yellow together means gaiety, joviality
  • Stained Glass (Dante): Divine love, the Holy Spirit, courage, self-sacrifice, martyrdom. A warm, active color.

Red Color Palettes

Pink

  • Korea: Trust
  • Eastern: Marriage
  • Western: Love, babies, especially female babies, Valentine’s Day
  • Feng Shui: Yin, love
  • Psychology: Used in diet therapy as an appetite suppressant, relaxes muscles, soothing
  • Roses: Gratitude and appreciation (deep pink) or admiration and sympathy (light pink)

Orange

  • Ireland: Religious (Protestants)
  • Netherlands: House of Orange
  • Western: Halloween (with black), creativity, autumn
  • Astrology: Sagittarius
  • Feng Shui: Yang, earth, strengthens conversation, purpose, organization
  • Psychology: Energizes, stimulates appetite
  • Roses: Enthusiasm, desire

Gold

  • Eastern: Wealth, strength
  • Western: Wealth
  • Astrology: Leo (Golden Yellow/Orange)
  • Feng Shui: Yang, metal, God consciousness
  • Stained Glass (Dante): The sun, the goodness of God, treasure in heaven, spiritual achievement, and the good life.

Yellow

  • Apache: East — where the sun rises
  • Cherokee: Trouble and strife.
  • China: Nourishing, royalty
  • Egypt: Mourning
  • India: Merchants
  • Japan: Courage
  • Navajo: Doko’oosliid — Abalone Shell Mountain
  • Eastern: Proof against evil, for the dead, sacred, imperial
  • Western: Hope, hazards, coward, weakness, taxis
  • Astrology: Taurus
  • Feng Shui: Yang, earth, auspicious, sun beams, warmth, motion
  • Psychology: Energizes, relieves depression, improves memory, stimulates appetite
  • Roses: Sociability, friendship, joy, gladness — red and yellow together means gaiety, joviality
  • Stained Glass (Dante): The sun, the goodness of God, treasure in heaven, spiritual achievement, and the good life.

Green

  • Apache: South
  • China: Green hats imply a man’s wife is cheating on him, exorcism
  • India: Islam
  • Ireland: Symbol of the entire country, religious (Catholics)
  • Islam: Perfect faith
  • Japan: Life
  • Eastern: Eternity, family, health, prosperity, peace
  • Western: Spring, new birth, go, money, Saint Patrick’s Day, Christmas (with red)
  • Astrology: Cancer (bright green)
  • Feng Shui: Yin, wood, growing energy, nurturing, balancing, healing, health, calming
  • Psychology: Soothing, relaxing mentally and physically, helps with depression, anxiety and nervousness
  • Stained Glass (Dante): Hope, victory over ignorance, happiness and gaiety, springtime, youth, good humor, and fun.

Green Color Palettes

Blue

  • Cherokee: Defeat, trouble. Represents the North.
  • China: Immortality
  • Iran: Color of heaven and spirituality, mourning
  • Navajo: Tsoodzil — Turquoise Mountain
  • Eastern: Wealth, self-cultivation
  • Western: Depression, sadness, conservative, corporate, "something blue" bridal tradition
  • Astrology: Capricorn and Aquarius (dark blue)
  • Feng Shui: Yin, water, calm, love, healing, relaxing, peace, trust, adventure, exploration
  • Psychology: Calming, lowers blood pressure, decreases respiration
  • Stained Glass (Dante): Wisdom of God, the light of heaven, meditation, enduring loyalty, and eternity.

Blue Color Palettes

Powder Blue or Baby Blue

  • Western: babies, especially male babies
  • Astrology: Virgo

Purple

  • Thailand: Mourning, widows
  • Eastern: Wealth
  • Western: Royalty
  • Astrology: Gemini, Sagittarius, and Pisces
  • Feng Shui: Yin, spiritual awareness, physical and mental healing
  • Stained Glass (Dante): Justice, royalty, suffering and mystery. With white it stands for humility and purity.

Violet

  • Astrology: Virgo and Libra
  • Psychology: Suppresses appetite, peaceful environment, good for migraines

White

  • Apache: North — source of snow.
  • Cherokee: Peace and happiness. Represents the South.
  • China: Death, mourning
  • India: unhappiness
  • Japan: White carnation symbolizes death
  • Navajo: Tsisnaasjini’ — Dawn or White Shell Mountain
  • Eastern: Funerals, helpful people, children, marriage, mourning, peace, travel
  • Western: Brides, angels, good guys, hospitals, doctors, peace (white dove)
  • Astrology: Aries and Pisces
  • Feng Shui: Yang, metal, death, mourning, spirits, ghosts, poise, confidence
  • Roses: Reverence, humility
  • Stained Glass (Dante): Serenity, peace, purity, joy, faith, and innocence.

Black

  • Apache: West — where the sun sets
  • Australian Aboriginals: Color of the people
  • Cherokee: Problems and death. Represents the West.
  • China: Color for young boys
  • Navajo: Dibé Nitsaa — Obsidian Mountain
  • Thailand: Bad luck, unhappiness, evil
  • Eastern: Career, evil, knowledge, mourning, pennance
  • Western: Funerals, death, Halloween (with orange), bad guys, rebellion
  • Feng Shui: Yin, water, money, income, career success, emotional protection, power, stability, bruises, evil
  • Psychology: self-confidence, strength, power

Gray

  • Eastern: Helpers, travel
  • Western: Boring, dull, plain, sad
  • Feng Shui: Yin, metal, dead, dull, indefinite

Silver

  • Western: stylish, money
  • Feng Shui: Yin, metal, trust, romance

Brown

  • Australian Aboriginals: Color of the land
  • Cherokee: Good.
  • Western: Wholesome, earthy, dependable, steadfast, health
  • Astrology: Capricorn and Scorpio (reddish brown)
  • Feng Shui: Yang, earth, industry, grounded

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