Colour symbolism and meaning

Colour symbolism and meaning

We at Mookychick Towers were wondering why colour has any symbolic properties at all. This idea that black is moody, chic, evil… or that pink is fun and vibrant, or that purple is mysterious, dangerous and mad… WHY?

We know that colour has symbolism and meaning attached to it. But colour symbolism doesn’t spring up out of nowhere, or just because someone charismatic four centuries ago thought black looked a bit moody and everyone else agreed. So why do we ascribe meaning and symbolism to colour? We did a bit of knocking around on the internet and this is what we found.

It’s obviously only the tip of the iceberg. But you have to dive in somewhere…

Apparently, colour conveys meanings in two primary ways – natural associations and psychological symbolism. No, it’s not mind control.It’s just that people are comfortable when colours remind them of similar things. For example, a soft shade of blue triggers associations with a clear, benevolent sky, a feeling of expansive tranquility and a psychological sense of calm.

Sometimes the source of colour meanings can be quite obvious in nature – red is the colour of blazing fire and blood (and lobsters), blue is the colour of cooling waters and sky, green is the colour of lush plant growth (oh, those dirty, lush, sexy plants, growing and propagating all over the place). Other meanings may be more complex and not universal.

If we look at those nature colours first, then colours strongly associated with nature are often agreed to symbolise something that’s universal and timeless. For example, the fact that green is the colour of vegetation can be considered a universal and timeless association – renewal, perhaps, or life.

Colour can also generate another level of meaning in the mind. This symbolism arises from cultural and contemporary contexts. As such, it is not universal and may be unrelated to its natural associations. For example, green’s associations with nature communicate growth, fruitfulness, freshness and ecology. On the other hand, green may also be symbolic of good luck, seasickness, money and greed – all of which have nothing to do with green plants. Or, while the West associates white with purity and life (weddings and christenings), the Chinese see it as a colour of mourning. These associations arise from a complex assortment of sources.

Furthermore, colour may have both positive and negative symbolism, also known as dual symbolism. For example, although blue is the beautiful colour of the sky on a sunny day, it can also be symbolic of sadness or institutional conventions. Red is another example of dual symbolism… As the colour of fire and blood, it’s energizing, aggressive and bold. In direct contrast, red is used for “STOP” signs throughout the world today, and the red of blood can mean danger and violence as much as it means life and energy.

Oh, and let’s not forget personal colour symbolism! Jung, was well up for the concept of personal symbolism. He believed in