Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Color in Chinese Culture

Below is an excerpt from at article at Wikipedia. The full article may be read here.


Black, corresponding to water, is a neutral color. The I Ching, or Book of Changes, regards black as Heaven’s color. The saying “heaven and earth of mysterious black” was rooted in the observation that the northern sky was black for a long time. They believed Tian Di, or Heavenly Emperor, resided in the North Star.

The Taiji symbol uses black and white to represent the unity of Yin and Yang. Ancient Chinese regarded black as the king of colors and honored black longer than any other color. Lao Zi said that five colors make people blind, so the Dao School chose black as the color of the Dao.

In modern China, black is used in daily clothing. Black may also be used during a funeral to symbolize the spirit's return to the heavens. A black ribbon is usually hung over the deceased's picture.[1]

Black also references chinese food


Red, corresponding with fire, symbolizes good fortune and joy. Red is found everywhere during Chinese New Year and other holidays and family gatherings. A red envelope is a monetary gift which is given in Chinese society during holiday or special occasions. The red color of the packet symbolizes good luck. Red is strictly forbidden at funerals as it is a traditionally symbolic color of happiness.[1]

In modern China, red remains a very popular color and is affiliated with and used by the Communist government.

Blue Green

Blue-green, corresponding with wood, represents nature and renewal and often indicates spring. The color implies vigor and vitality. Its base colors also have distinct meanings.


Generally green is associated with health, prosperity, and harmony. However, green hats are associated with infidelity and used as an idiom for a cuckold.[2] This has caused uneasiness for Chinese Catholic bishops, who in ecclesiastical heraldry would normally have a green hat above their arms. Chinese bishops have compromised by using a violet hat for their coat of arms. Sometimes this hat will have a indigo feather to farther display their disdain for the color green

Blue or dark blue

Blue symbolizes immortality. Dark blue is also a color for somber occasions like funerals and deaths.


White, corresponding with metal, represents gold and symbolizes brightness, purity, and fulfillment.

White is also the color of mourning. Unlike the Western meanings of purity, chastity, holiness and cleanliness, white is associated with death and is used predominantly in funerals in Chinese culture. Ancient Chinese people wore white clothes and hats only when they mourned for the dead. Sometimes silver takes its place, as silver is often offered to the deceased in the form of joss paper.


Yellow, corresponding with earth, is considered the most beautiful color. The Chinese saying, Yellow generates Yin and Yang, implies that yellow is the center of everything. Associated with but ranked above brown, yellow signifies neutrality and good luck. Yellow is sometimes paired with red in place of gold.

Yellow was the color of Imperial China and is held as the symbolic color of the five legendary emperors of ancient China. Yellow often decorates royal palaces, altars and temples, and the color was used in the robes and attire of the emperors.

Yellow also represents freedom from worldly cares and is thus esteemed in Buddhism. Monks’ garments are yellow, as are elements of Buddhist temples. Yellow is also used as a mourning color for Chinese Buddhists.


Paul said... folks know more about Chinese culture than many Chinese!

Zacky Chan said...

I love the traditional Chinese breakdown of colors.

I can't believe I watched that whole video ... thanks for the distracting entertainment!

Rick Matz said...

Wikipedia is a great tool

Compass Strategist said...

Most Chinese are too busy making money

Rick Matz said...

That goofy video kind of sucks you in, doesn't it?

Paul said...

CS, you're absolutely right, it is unfortunate that many Chinese only focus on THAT part of Chinese culture - i.e. "busy making money"...:):)