Color symbolism

Color symbolism in art and anthropology refers to the use of color as a symbol in various cultures. There is great diversity in the use of colors and their associations between cultures[1] and even within the same culture in different time periods.[2] The same color may have very different associations within the same culture at any time. For example, red is often used for stop signs[3] or danger.[4] At the same time, red is also frequently used in association with romance, e.g. with Valentine's Day.[5] White variously signifies purity, innocence, wisdom or death. Blue has similarly diverse meanings.

Diversity in color symbolism occurs because color meanings and symbolism occur on an individual, cultural and universal basis. Color symbolism is also context-dependent and influenced by changes over time.[6]

Symbolic representations of religious concepts or articles may include a specific color with which the concept or object is associated.[7] There is evidence to suggest that colors have been used for this purpose as early as 90,000 BC.[8]

Extensive associations for each color are listed in their respective articles.

Arthur Bliss wrote A Colour Symphony in 1922, depicting in each movement a particular color and its associated symbolism.

See also


  1. Whitfield TW, Wiltshire TJ. (Nov 1990). "Color psychology: a critical review". Genet Soc Gen Psychol Monogr. 4 (116): 385–411.
  2. Birren, F. (2006). Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 9781425424107. Retrieved 2015-03-22.
  3. "Regulatory Signs | Standard Highway Signs Metric Edition" (PDF). 5 December 2004. Retrieved 2015-03-22.
  4. File:Zeichen 101.svg
  5. "valentine - Google Search". Retrieved 2015-03-22.
  6. O'Connor, Z. (2015). Color Symbolism: Individual, cultural and universal. Design Research Associates, Sydney.
  7. Encyclopædia Britannica (17 February 2010). Religious symbolism and iconography. Encyclopædia Britannica Online..
  8. Hovers, E.; Ilani, S.; Bar‐yosef, O.; Vandermeersch, B. (2003). "An Early Case of Color Symbolism: Ochre Use by Modern Humans in Qafzeh Cave". Current Anthropology. 44 (4): 491. doi:10.1086/375869.

External links

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