Visual Color Symbolism Chart by Culture

What Different Colors Mean in Different Cultures

Paint swatches

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Color is an important part of any design, but if you make a poorly informed choice in colors, your design can say something different than you intend it to. At best, it will miss its mark; at worst, it can offend.

How colors are perceived depends a lot on a person's culture. The chart below can help give you a better sense of how the colors you choose are perceived by viewers in various cultures. Note that, in some cases, a given color is also associated with another “thing.” For example, a “white dove” in western cultures symbolizes peace.

Likewise, a color combination creates the association, such as red and green symbolizing Christmas in the West. This information is noted below.

ColorCultures and Meanings

Red

  • Australian Aboriginals: Land, Earth
  • Celtic: Death, afterlife
  • China: Good luck, celebration, summoning
  • Cherokees: Success, triumph, the East
  • Hebrew: Sacrifice, sin
  • India: Purity
  • South Africa: 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; with yellow, gaiety, joviality
  • Stained glass (Dante): Divine love, the Holy Spirit, courage, self-sacrifice, martyrdom

Pink

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

Orange

  • Ireland: Religious (Protestants)
  • Netherlands: House of Orange
  • Western: with black, Halloween; creativity, autumn
  • Astrology: Sagittarius
  • Feng Shui: Yang, Earth, conversation, purpose, organization
  • Psychology: Energy, appetite stimulant
  • Roses: Enthusiasm, desire

Gold

  • Eastern: Wealth, strength
  • Western: Wealth
  • Astrology: Leo
  • Feng Shui: Yang, metal, God consciousness
  • Stained glass (Dante): The sun, the goodness of God, treasure in heaven, spiritual achievement, the good life

Yellow

  • Apache: East, where the sun rises
  • Cherokee: Trouble, 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, sunbeams, warmth, motion
  • Psychology: Energizes, relieves depression, improves memory, stimulates appetite
  • Roses: Sociability, friendship, joy, gladness; with yellow, gaiety, joviality
  • Stained glass (Dante): The sun, the goodness of God, treasure in heaven, spiritual achievement, the good life

Green

  • Apache: South
  • China: Exorcism; green hats imply a man’s wife is cheating on him
  • India: Islam
  • Ireland: Patriotism, Catholicism
  • 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, happiness, gaiety, springtime, youth, good humor, and fun; victory over ignorance

 

Blue

  • Cherokees: Defeat, trouble, the North
  • China: Immortality
  • Iran: Heaven, 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, light of heaven, meditation, enduring loyalty, and eternity.

 

Powder/Baby Blue

  • Western: babies, especially males
  • 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, mystery; With white, humility and purity

Violet

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

White

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

Black

  • Apache: West, where the sun sets
  • Australian Aboriginals: Color of the people
  • Cherokee: Problems, death, the West
  • China: Young boys
  • Navajo: Dibé Nitsaa—obsidian mountain
  • Thailand: Bad luck, unhappiness, evil
  • Eastern: Career, evil, knowledge, mourning, penance
  • 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: The land
  • Cherokee: Good
  • Western: Wholesome, earthy, dependable, steadfast, health
  • Astrology: Capricorn, Scorpio
  • Feng Shui: Yang, Earth, industry, groundedness