Global Colour Perceptions


Colour exists everywhere. No matter where you live in the world, you will experience colour in some form. Globally we may name colours the same (with translation), but certain colours are perceived differently around the globe, and very often it is not the meaning of the colour that differs, but the attitude to what the colour is actually representing.

  • The ancient Egyptians and Romans wore black for death and mourning, as do most of the Western World today.
  • In China and Japan they wear white, as white is their least vibrant colour.
  • In Egypt and Burma they wear yellow.
  • In Borneo they wear blue.
  • In South Africa they wear red.
  • In Thailand, a widow wears purple to mourn her husband's death.
  • In the Middle Ages, actors portraying the dead in a play wore yellow.
  • Christian traditions connect red to Christ in his blood-red cloak of sacrificial love.
  • The Navajo Nation use the four colours of turquoise, white, yellow and black in their religious ceremonies, representing four sacred mountains.
  • The Iowa Nation use the four colours of black, yellow, red and white as sacred colours representing what they consider to be the four races of man.
  • The Apache Nation use the four colours of green, white, yellow and black, which are the sacred colours of the White Mountain.
Luck and Victory
  • Green is the colour of Ireland and the lucky four leaf clover.
  • Red is the colour for luck in China.
  • Red is also used in Greece to dye eggs for good luck at Easter time.
  • In the highlands of Scotland, people wore green as a mark of victory and honour.
  • In the Western World first prize is a blue ribbon.
  • In the Western World if a business is experiencing financial difficulty, it is 'in the red'.
  • In the Western World if a business is 'in the black', it is making money.
Regardless of how we use and perceive colour, it will always be an important part of our lives.

© Copyright J M Lennox. All Rights Reserved.