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. 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.

Color Cultures 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
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