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 and even within the same culture in different time periods. The same color may have very different associations within the same culture at any time. For example, red is often used for stop signs or danger. At the same time, red is also frequently used in association with romance, e.g. with Valentine’s Day. 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.

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

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.

Different kinds of symbols

Expressive symbols
American philosopher Susanne Langer talks about expressive symbols – the perceptual patterns that raise our attention in art and design by recalling our living sensual experiences in the outside world and therefore can serve as symbols of “experienced life”. Such symbols are recognized spontaneously and can take us without having to learn what they mean. In the case of color, for example, it may be about artistic interpretations of the interplay between light and color in our world.

Cultural symbols
Other color symbols have evolved within a certain culture or time, and we learn them spontaneously by encountering them in our daily lives or reading about them in the literature. In the western world, for example, we are used to black as the color of a sorrow, but in several Asian cultures, it is white to symbolize sadness. Christian communities have their liturgical colors, while other religions have other color symbols. Other cultural symbols have been created for reasons other than religious.

Symbols created by agreements
Many color codes and symbols have been created through agreements or standardization. Some of them are eventually incorporated into the tradition we take spontaneously, such as the red-yellow-green traffic signals, which are the same throughout the world. Others must learn actively before we understand them, for example, the color marking indicates different features or qualities within a particular industry or activity.

The individual’s own symbols
In addition to what is common to all, or within a culture, every human being has associations that are personal and created by their own memories and experiences. A special case, believed to be physiological, is synesthesia or mind analogy. Synthesis means that a sense of mind creates a new impression in another mind, for example, that numbers and letters have colors.

The color in its context

There is no clear connection between which color you prefer in general and what color you choose for your clothes or the walls of your home and also the symbolic meaning of the individual color, the context is crucial.

Due to much of the color symbol, people’s common experiences of light and darkness, water and fire, and the gradual change of vegetation from germ to maturity and fishery. The red color of the blood is a strong symbol in all cultures. But although these symbols are based on general human experiences, the specific colors can be interpreted very differently in different cultures, and in different contexts within one and the same culture. For example, red may symbolize both love, sin and revolution , while red houses or red clothes provide additional other associations. Green is often used with reference to nature and – in recent times – environmental awareness.

The strongest symbolism is often not in individual colors but in combinations of colors. A nearby example is the combination of yellow and blue, which for many gives immediate associations to Sweden, and this even though the combination is presented on something completely different from a flag.

Heraldry uses the term color in special sense and has rules on how different colors may be combined.

Color as status symbol

Purple rarely denotes the status of rulers and royalty, as it has done since ancient times. Origin, like many other status symbols, is a matter of economy. The dye used for the purple fabrics was extracted from small shells, where large quantities needed to get the desired color. The status of such precious clothes was reserved under the Roman Empire for Senators and Emperors, which by law were the only ones who could use it. Later, the exclusive purple color has become a symbol of the rank of high-ranking men in the Catholic Church.

In China, yellow has had a similar status as color to the imperial family’s clothes.

Today, the men of power usually dress in black or dark blue, something that can be derived from the French Revolution, when the new rulers distanced themselves from the elaborate, colorful clothing style of the old upper class.

Even in the case of color on houses there is traditionally a symbolism based on economics. From the 1400s and hundreds of years ahead, Sweden’s highest status was to paint houses with red paint, as a spectacle on the precious and prestigious facade bricks. When the red color began to become normal, instead of bright linseed colors, it symbolized status and wealth. Different pigments had a very different price for a long time, and lead white was, for example, many times more expensive than the soil pigments found in nature. Thus, the white-painted wooden house became not only a glimpse but also a manifestation of wealth.

Colors as an idea carrier

Color in religion

Within the Protestant Swedish Church there are a number of liturgical colors with different symbolic meanings. They are used in, for example, the altar textiles and the priest’s clothes to clarify the message of the Sunday or the worship service:

White symbolizes purity, holiness, and virginity and is used at joyful times.
Red is the color of the fire, the blood and love, used for Pentecost and Martial Arts. Red can also specifically symbolize God’s love.
Green is the color of spring and spring and is used when no other color is prescribed.
Violet symbolizes regret, cure and recovery and is used during cure and fasting times.
Blue is the color of heaven and sea and stands for faithfulness and for the supernatural divine. It can be the color of Christ or Mary and sometimes used instead of violet.
Purple stands for royal power and divinity.
Yellow traditionally symbolizes fishing and such evil things as betrayal and jealousy, but can also stand for gold and eternal light, the glory and power of God.
Black is the color of sorrow and death.
Gold means supernatural grandeur but can also be signs of external prick.
Other Christian communities have some other liturgical colors or other interpretations of their meaning. Within the Catholic Church there are also a number of conventions and other associations that sometimes have popular names for the color of their clothes, for example, Franciscan monks are called “gray brothers.”

Islam is often associated with green, although there are different theories about the origins of this. Even the colors black and white are significant Muslim symbols for purity and holiness.

Political color
Within politics, different colors, with the use of different political movements, have had special meanings. You are talking about political color. Mostly red for socialism and blue for conservatism , but in the United States, the Conservative Republican party is usually symbolized by red while the more liberal democrats are associated with blue. Green has become a collective term for the relatively new parties that define themselves as environmentally friendly, and in Sweden the traditionally feminine color pink has been raised by the Party Feminist Initiative.

Brown symbolizes politics Nazism and represented the Nazi Party in Germany from the 1920s to 1940s.

Black is usually associated with anarchism or, in combination with red anarcho syndicalism. Also, with reference to Mussolini’s black shirts, is fascism.

White has been used in the sense of counterrevolutionary. The expression can be derived from French history, which refers to two periods of white terror, first in 1795 as a reaction to the French Revolution in 1789, and since 1815 when the royal house of Bourbon was reintroduced after Napoleon’s fall. The color white then referred to the white taboos of the royal house but has since had the corresponding meaning in several other contexts, such as the words White Armies and White Terror during the Civil War in Finland and Russia in the 1910s and 1920s and White Terror in Hungary and China in the 1920s.

Color as a symbol of the nation or group
The colors of today’s flags of the country can sometimes be derived from the heraldic weapons of important rulers and / or regions. Many flags have the same colors – for example, there are over 30 nations flags with the three colors red, white and blue – and the symbolic value of the flag is thus not only created by the colors but also by their location. The symbolic value of the individual colors in the combination often appears to be a post-construction, and not seldom gives different sources different interpretations.

Many African flags have the colors red, black and green. This goes back to the flag created in 1920 by United Negro Improvement Organization in the United States and became a symbol of panafricanism. Its three colors were given specific symbolic meanings. When the African countries in the 20th century became independent from the colonial powers that previously dominated the continent, many of them chose to associate with pan-Africanism in their flags.

Orange is national color for the Netherlands and also symbolizes the Protestant Orange Order (Orange Order), which is primarily active among Northern Ireland protesters. The symbolism refers in both cases to the Dutch prince of Orania. In the Netherlands, William I of Orania (1533-1584) led a successful independence war against Spain and became known as the “father of the foster country”. His descendant William III of England, Ireland and Scotland (1650-1702) was a Protestant king who defeated and defeated Catholic rivals and rebels. The eatery of Orania is named after the city of Orange in Provence. The city’s name has nothing to do with the orange color – before Julius Caesar’s conquest was called Arausio. The strong symbolic effect of the orange color can thus be derived to a pure soundness between words of completely different origins and meaning.

On a more common level, there are plenty of examples that sports clubs are named by the colors of their tabs and matchwear. Even smaller-formalized groups and subcultures often choose a special color scale for their clothes.

Colors as expressions of personality and emotions
The ancient temperament theory couples colors with the body fluids that were believed to affect people’s temperament and personality:

Red blood stands in this context for a singing, obscene and effective temperament.
White mucus stands for a phlegmatic, sluggish and hard-tempered temperament.
Yellow (yellow bile) stands for a colder and hot temper.
Black (black galla) stands for a melancholic temperament.
Blues as the name of a musical form, and on the feelings it expresses, is believed to have got its name after the English phrase blue devils, which stands for melancholy.

Color symbolism in the visual arts
The visual arts of ancient times used to a great extent the color symbolism created by religion. In addition, it sometimes developed additional symbolism, which spoke directly to the present contemporary viewer, but today’s people do not get spontaneous. For example, in the art of baroque, there were the symbols:

Blue – contempt and science but also jealous
Green – Joy, kindness and hope
Brown – moderation, understanding and satisfaction

Color symbolic conventions and standards

In some contexts there is reason to have established color symbolic conventions. This has resulted in standardization of color codes for some purposes, such as traffic signals, electronics and fire protection, and on pipelines and controls. For example, the Swedish Standardization Commission has identified certain colors as standard for moving parts such as movable machine parts (orange), fireboxes and fire extinguishers (red) and emergency exits (green).

The electronics industry holds a significant amount of disguised information with color. Many of its components are so small that you can not easily put clear text or numeric code on them. Instead, they are labeled with small dots or dots where each color is given a number value. From some small color markings resistance, capacitance or permissible current can be read. Also on fuses (so-called stoppers) in the cubicles are color markings, where each color corresponds to a certain current. . Vehicle fuses are also color-coded.

In sports situations, colored flags and cards are used to provide signals, warnings and instructions, and different sports have different color symbols here, of course, understood by those who are inserted but not always by others. In navigation, green starboard (right) and red port (left) denote, and the same symbolism is also used in other contexts.

In war, a white flag (parliamentary flag) is a sign of giving up and surrendering to the enemy. This is stated in the 1907 Hague Convention, Article 32.

Color is often used as a guide in, for example, subway systems, with a case-by-case symbolism.

Research on color symbolism and color associations
With regard to the physiological and psychological impacts of color on humans, there are major knowledge gaps and very little is scientifically pledged. In spite of this, controversial results are often presented as facts, and both the public and professional colorants abound the amount of myths and factoids that researchers in the field can not confirm. An example is what is called the Pink Effect in English, which claims that some light red colors have a calming effect. To test the hypothesis, researchers were painting a US prison in such colors, and found that the burghers became clearly less disturbing. When they were going to follow up on their results after a while, they discovered that the innkeepers were at least as messy as before the re-painting, and concluded that the temporary calming effect was due to the fact that one had no idea how to look up the environment, no matter what color it had selected. Nevertheless, the myth of the Pink Effect continued to spread and apply.

The research done on human associations around different colors has often been done using small color samples, which have been shown to be unrelated to the single-color paper or computer screen. There have also been questions about how people respond to different color words or ask them to choose colors that correspond to different associations or emotional expressions. It is questionable to what extent such studies say something about the feelings or associations that colors may arouse in other situations, for example, differences between people’s attitude to the same colors have been shown on small pieces of paper and on the full-walled walls.

Color researcher Lars Sivik presented a study of color associations in 1970, conducted by examining small groups of subjects and specifying their associations by crossing scales between different words (for example, hot-cold and female-male). The survey was conducted both in Sweden and in Greece. For the majority of the scales there are no systematic differences between the Swedish and Greek responses, but in some cases the differences were clear. For the words Winter – Summer and Cold – Warm, this can probably be explained by the climate change between the countries. The differences of screaming – discreet and cultivated – vulgarity was probably founded on cultural differences.

Color symbols in popular press and on the Internet
The alleged symbolic meanings of different colors are often described and analyzed in popular press, on web pages and in social media. For example, there are a number of contradictory “flower languages” in which the color of the flowers you donate is alleged to convey a message.

There are also web pages that offer advice on how different colors can best be used in marketing and brand building. The reliability of these statements can be illustrated by the fact that one and the same counseling site in one place presents yellow associated with energy and intellect, and elsewhere writes that blue – unlike yellow – stands for consciousness and intellect.

Source From Wikipedia