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Colors and Their Meanings in Chinese Culture

Colors and Their Meanings in Chinese Culture

Have you ever wonder what are the meanings of colors? Well in China, there are meanings to every color. The traditions and culture of the Chinese people are the subjects of so many studies and understanding by a lot of other people outside their culture because it is amusing. Chinese culture and practices continuously create curiosity among the outside observer because they live their traditions in a day to day basis.

That is why It is very interesting to take a look at Chinese culture specially their choice of color and tits meanings.

If you visited a Chinese restaurant or watched a Chinese movie, chances are you might have noticed the color red, yellow and green which fill the atmosphere. You might have noticed that red is their favorite color too.

The objective of this article is to take a look at how Chinese people choose the color appropriate for their activities and symbols. So come and join me in understanding colors and their meanings in Chinese culture.

China Flag

China Flag

RED cheongsam is the way to have a red dress in Chinese culture

RED cheongsam is the way to have a red dress in Chinese culture

RED CHINESE KNOT

RED CHINESE KNOT

RED LANTERN

RED LANTERN

colors-and-their-meanings-in-chinese-culture
RED COUPLETS usually displayed on the door of houses

RED COUPLETS usually displayed on the door of houses

RED FIRECRACKER

RED FIRECRACKER

RED POCKERT or RED ENVELOPE with GOOD Luck money given to children during special occasions

RED POCKERT or RED ENVELOPE with GOOD Luck money given to children during special occasions

Yellow is also another color Chinese people preferred

Yellow is also another color Chinese people preferred

Chinese Monks in Yellow Robes

Chinese Monks in Yellow Robes

Red -- Have you ever wonder why Chinese people like the red color very much? China was once called “The Red China” referring to the Communist China.Chinese people like the red color very much. At festivals or great ceremonies, they prefer to wear red clothing as well.

The color red signifies happiness and good luck.

  • Red clothes are preferred when you celebrate your birthday. Brand new clothes are worn and they should be red in color, and this is also done during New years celebration. Chinese celebrates grand birthday on certain age only.
  • Red cheongsam is a woman's dress with distinctive Chinese features and enjoys a growing popularity in world of fashion -- in international fashion as well. Chinese people tend to wear red colored dresses to add in a festive mood in any festivities. The cheongsam is a dress with distinctive Chinese features and is buttoned on the right side with a loose chest, a fitting waist to enhance the shape of a woman.. the cheongsam perfectly fits the beautiful figure of females.

Red Chinese Knot

  • Red Chinese knot are made up of a single rope and it is named by its meaning and its form. It is a very elegant red knot hang everywhere in Chinese homes and establishments.This is a form of ancient weaving and Chinese people use this as a form of decorations since Han Dynasty. Knot in Chinese means marriage, warmth, reunion, luck, harmony and also love. Red Chinese knot must should be made from a single red rope symbolizing the unending life. It is also bent, tied and crafted from a single red rope, to express the endless circle of a happy life.

Red Lantern

  • Red Lantern is found everywhere, in the house in the streets as well. They are hang to symbolizes brightness, harmony, happiness and good luck as well. It is supposed to warm the house, send away evil spirits and create an atmosphere of harmony.

Red Couplet

  • Pasting red spring couplet has been an important part of the Chinese New Year's celebration since ancient times. On lunar New Year's Eve, families make it a point to decorate their gates or apartment door-frames with the customary couplets. The couplet which is written on two strips of red paper -- is composed of two (two) poetic sentences which match and rhyme with each other to express hopes for the coming "NEW YEAR". The red couplets, along with the New Year paintings on the door, serve as beautiful decorations as well as protective shield for evil spirits.

Red Paper cut

  • The "Paper-cut art" is a handcraft created in various patterns like animals or flowers and it is pasted on the window and other side of the house to create festivities. This is mainly during New Year.

Red Firecracker

  • Chinese people used red firecrackers during special festivities like New year. Red firecrackers are believed to bring good luck and happiness plus it ward off evil spirits as well.

Red Pocker or Red Envelope Which Contains Good Luck Money

  • The Chinese people have a tradition of giving money to children or unmarried children, and they give it with the “red envelope” containing the money and it is also called a good luck money. This money or red envelope is given during special occasions. This simply means the elder people give the younger ones -- the children money and they put it in red envelope while the younger children will also greet the elder ones with this greetings --Gong xi fa cai, hong bao na lai!" and this simply means "Wish you a Prosperous New Year and please give me a red envelope!"

Red is the color used during weddings

  • The carpets, the invitation, double Happiness characters ahould be in red color . The bed of the newly wed is also colored red including the quilts as well as the decorations during wedding should all be red. Red signifies blessings and good luck to the couple who are going to get married.

You can also found the Color Red in their flag, ancient palaces (walls) the walls of ancient palaces, the national flag -- Chinese knot -- lantern -- couplet -- clothings and other things discussed here. Red signifies reunion, health, happiness, harmony, peace plus prosperity.

GREEN

  • The green signifies prosperity and health, plus harmony. Green hats signifies cheating behavior as well

Black is used in daily wear but it also signifies mourning like white. A black ribbon is put at the top of deceased picture.

Blue or dark blue is also used or sadder occasions like death and mourning.

 

Yellow and Gold

  • Yellow is a good luck color -- as it is sometimes paired with red if there is no gold color Yellow was also the color of the robes and attire of the emperors. I don’t know if there is something about the term “Yellow race”. Yellow is a mourning color for Chinese Buddhists -- specially deceased monks.

White or Silver

  • White for Chinese tradition signifies mourning and sadness. It means death as contrasted to the meaning of white in the western world which is purity. White can also be interchanged with silver as a symbol of mourning. They dressed in white when they are in mourning.

Red and yellow plus green are always use for festivities and for decorating as well. In this article, we will try to take a look at what does certain color means to Chinese.

One interesting fact is that there is no exactly explanation why Chinese prefer green and red color but according to some studies, if you combine red and green, the product is yellow and yellow is a nice color for Chinese.

Sources:

Omni Research Journal

The Color of China

 

Chinese new year attire

Chinese new year attire

colors-and-their-meanings-in-chinese-culture

Comments

Eric Chenyang on February 14, 2015:

I want to address the question regarding Red and Green. "Red man, green lady" 紅男綠女 is a Chinese idiom used to describe a happy and cute (heterosexual) couple, as well as people in elaborate clothings. In Tang Dynasty, this is the dressing code for the groom and the bride respectively, respectively. This tradition can be seen in some modern-day revival of traditional Han Chinese weddings and rituals.

In some local customs, such as the folk dancers from the north-eastern region (東北), wear a strongly contrasting clothing with bright pink and neon green. I am not sure about its origin. Anyway, unfortunately, many modern Chinese might believe that green and red is a horrible combination as there is a well known saying indicates this idea, but this is merely a misunderstanding of traditional colours as well Chinese culture in general. When used well, red and green can still form an elegant and classic pallette. For example, in the Hanfu Movement, green and red are often used for Tang-inspired hanfu (Han Chinese Clothing) designs, because this pallette tends to give out an aura of the Tang.

Yasmin on August 20, 2012:

Thanks this is really helpful(:

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on July 28, 2012:

Thanks Jan! The Chinese culture is very rich!

Jan Brianne on July 27, 2012:

Really beautiful and interesting information about chinese culture... loved it...!!! :)

Emily Johnson on April 04, 2012:

Thanks :) you help with my homework !!

Java Programs from India on March 09, 2012:

Great hub, very much informative .... Great hub for Chinese tradition and colors .... Thanks prettydarkhorse .... for the wonderful information .... keep up the good work up ....

ezswimmer on February 22, 2012:

I had heard that red meant "available" here in the United Sates. Fascinating. I love blue because it reminds me of the ocean but sad doesn't work for me.

I have heard most Asian weddings - India and Pakistan red is the main color for the bride. I didn't know about China.

Color and the cultural significance can be so different.

Fascinating post. Thank yoU!

Voted up!

lol lady on January 23, 2012:

ta u helped amazing with my home work!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :):):)

wonderingwoolley from Madison, WI on January 09, 2012:

This is really fascinating, I love knowing the reasons behind things, and the symbolism of it as well. This has great, in depth explanations that I really appreciate. Good job, very informative, thank you so much for sharing!

Todd D. Schmidt from Las Vegas on September 08, 2011:

Great a hub. Thanks for all the details.

Rickrideshorses from England on September 02, 2011:

Cool, that's fascinating. I never realised the meaning behind red. Thanks!

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on July 05, 2011:

Thanks for reading this hub, I really appreciate it..

Angel Caleb Santos from Hampton Roads, Virginia on July 02, 2011:

Nice hub. Thank you for informing us of the colors of your culture. Well done.

Richard83 from West Virginia on May 31, 2011:

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I knew they were big on the stars, didn't know about the colors as well. Great article.

IndoVillas on May 25, 2011:

Nice hub!Red's got to be their favorite color=)

THAT Mary Ann on May 03, 2011:

This is SO interesting and informative...I knew a little about the red...but nothing about all the other colors and their meanings and appropriate occasions.

Thanks for this. Voted up and useful.

Lisa from ireland on March 25, 2011:

Very insightful hub and the pictures are very beautiful.

Marwan Asmar from Amman, Jordan on March 06, 2011:

Color is cultural. This article points that out. In the West, red has sexual connotations, plus danger, while white is pure and virginal rather than death which is black. Testing on yellow also means appetite, and inducing willingness to eat. In the Arab world green is associated with religion and being devout. Blue is politically conservative and red is associated with communism.

James H Pursell on February 20, 2011:

I have notice numerous time the breakin translation of Chinese to English. I am volunteer in myself to work in translation and corrections of text. Please employ.

I am thank you.

James Pursell

WestOcean from Great Britain on December 21, 2010:

Fascinating article. I went to a Chinese wedding this year and made sure I wore a red tie! :)

DavidLivingston on December 08, 2010:

Keep posting more like this. Thanks.

Erlyn on October 02, 2010:

this helps me in my presentation.. thanks

Udreamybridal on September 09, 2010:

"Green Hat" is a metaphor of a husband cheated by his wife. So no husband will wear a green hat in life.

Justin Choo from Malaysia on September 04, 2010:

Interesting hub.

May I just add a comment. Buddhist monks wear "yellow" (actually saffron) robes. Yellow is not a mourning color. The traditonal mourning color is black; but nowadays many prefer white.

Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on August 31, 2010:

Lovely Hub-I would enjoy your comments on my History Hub on Qin, First Emperor of China.

infonolan on August 02, 2010:

Thanks for your explanation of meanings behind colours. It always remained a mystery to me but I knew there was some meaning behind them some way or the other! Great Hub!

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on April 10, 2010:

my lucky number is 7, thank you chicago, Maita

Chicagovision from Chicago on April 09, 2010:

I'm usually lucky. My lucky number is 3

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on April 09, 2010:

Hi mythbuster, thank you, white and silver signifies virginity, hehe. Maita

mythbuster from Utopia, Oz, You Decide on April 08, 2010:

An interesting hub. Thanks for sharing. I wasn't aware of the associations with the colours white and silver.

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on March 05, 2010:

lender, thanks dear, maita

lender3212000 from Beverly Hills, CA on March 05, 2010:

Excellent and unique hub! That made for a very good read.

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on March 03, 2010:

thanks alya, that's a nice compliment! Maita

Alya rose from From beyond the reeds on March 03, 2010:

I've always been wondering why red is so significant.This was a fantastic hub.

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on March 01, 2010:

Hi Tubbs, Xie xie, yuan ni you ge mei meng. ( I followed what you say hehe) Wan an as well,! I appreciate it very much, Maita

Korsita Korchenko from Louisiana on March 01, 2010:

LoL!! Ok I will have to work on that one, but I will have it for you tomorrow for sure. I enjoyed that!! Xie xie, yuan ni you ge mei meng. Wan an Maita!

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on March 01, 2010:

thank you so much for your effort, you are fast, I will let you sleep now, Xie xie, I like it very much, how about that, in Mandarin, I like it very much, more assigment, hehe, Maita

Korsita Korchenko from Louisiana on March 01, 2010:

Haha!! you could say thanks, xie xie or thankyou is xie xie ni. Do you like it? LOL!!

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on March 01, 2010:

Wan an, Wo Ai Ni, hehe, how about thank you, that is your assignment?? just kidding, Maita

Korsita Korchenko from Louisiana on March 01, 2010:

Your so welcome Maita!! I had to look at my notes but "Good Night" is Wan An. Wo Ai Ni.

Tubbs

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on March 01, 2010:

oh thank you, Ni Hao ma, how about good night, Wo Ai Ni, Maita

Korsita Korchenko from Louisiana on March 01, 2010:

Ni Hao or Ni Hao Ma and I love you is... Wo Ai Ni !! LOL!!

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on March 01, 2010:

Thats good Tubbs, I am a Filipina and I don't speak Chinese as well, but I am very ineterested to learn their language as well,

you're great learning , How do you say Hi or I love you in Mandarin then hehe, Maita

Korsita Korchenko from Louisiana on March 01, 2010:

Hi good morning Maita!! I've been studying Mandarin now for about four months. It is a challenge but I really enjoy it.

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on March 01, 2010:

Thank you Tubbs, good morning! Are you learning Mandarin or Fookien? That's nice you are interested in Chinese culture, Maita

Korsita Korchenko from Louisiana on March 01, 2010:

I love this hub!! Well written. Chinese culture and language have always been of great interest to me. Good hub Maita!!

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 20, 2010:

Hi Ed, yes understanding culture is nice as well, and I hope you learn a lot from Chinese culture, Thanks, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 20, 2010:

Hi Part time writer, thanks for your nice comments, I like red as well, Maita

Amez from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2010:

I really never read anything on the color reasoning of other country's but its interesting and if you travel a good way to start a conversation with people outside your own culture to show respect to thiers. Than you. Ed

Part-time Writer from Way Up North (USA) on February 19, 2010:

Enjoyed learning about the importance of color in Chinese culture. One of my favorite colors is red, I guess I must be happy go lucky.

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 19, 2010:

Hi Ms Susana, thanks and it is fine with me, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 19, 2010:

Hi cosette, "The Good Earth" seems a nice book, am glad you luv this one, thanks dear, Maita

Susana Smith from UK on February 19, 2010:

Hi pretty :) I'm thinking of adding a link to this hub from my dream interpretation website since colors have different meanings in different cultures - this is just what I've been looking for! Thank you for writing it :)

cosette on February 18, 2010:

luv this hub! i first became aware of the significance of Chinese colors when i read The Good Earth. love your images too :)

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 18, 2010:

thank you ateenyi, and yes, that good luck money is the bst isn't it? hehe, I wish adult can be given too, in the Philippines, wher there are lots of Chinese, myother relatives who are half Chinese will give money to children, I am a Filipino American, Thank you again, Maita

ateenyi from Chicago on February 17, 2010:

Good Hub!!!!

Color displayed at total ambience of Chinese culture. Red, green and yellow color is mostly used in all the festive occasion in Chinese culture. The children are often gifted with red envelope containing money symbolizing good luck. The whole hub is highly informative thoroughly enjoyable.

Thanks a lot for sharing.

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 17, 2010:

Hi emie, thanks for your wonderful comments, Maita

emievil from Philippines on February 17, 2010:

Lovely hub, lovely pics from a lovely hubber. I'm biased because you're my kababayan :D.

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 16, 2010:

Hi Irish, I think you really like chinese food, Miss you in the forum, Thanks dear, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 16, 2010:

Hi treasure, thank you, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 16, 2010:

Hey Truth, I know Celtics wear green hehe as always it is the personal preference and your aura on it that counts, LOl, Thank you, I love green too, Maita

theirishobserver. from Ireland on February 16, 2010:

Yes, I am a regular visitor to the local Chinese restaurant, loads of celebration still going on in Ireland for Chinese new year......it is 4pm here in Ireland and weather is ok......hope you are well

treasuresyw from Savannah, GA on February 16, 2010:

Cool!

Truth From Truth from Michigan on February 15, 2010:

Great work Maita, I'm not happy about the green color designation as I wear green often. I'm sure it does not apply to me. Have a great week.

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 13, 2010:

Thanks Money, I like the color red too, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 13, 2010:

Hi Dao, how come you are poor, financially but not in spirit, Thank you, Maita

Money Glitch from Texas on February 12, 2010:

I like this hub for the simple reason that I love red and it makes me happy :) Thanks for sharing your insight on one of my favorite colors. :)

Dao Hoa on February 12, 2010:

Red is not my color. None of my clothes is red. No wonder I am poor! :-(

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 12, 2010:

Thanks Patti, Maita

Patti Ann from Florida on February 12, 2010:

Hello Maita! Great information - I'm going to have to start wearing more red.

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 12, 2010:

Hi anglnwu, thnaks for your insights as well, interesting, pink, oh now I know I like red so I wear red clothes at times, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 12, 2010:

hi habee, are you into colors? Happy weekend, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 12, 2010:

Thank you Petra Vla, now you know, thnaks for visitng this one, wedding must be fun I know you enjoyed it, Happy weekend, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 12, 2010:

Hey IRISH, yes Chinese are into restaurants business and they are hardworking, have you visited a Chinese restauramt yet, notice their color, thank you, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 12, 2010:

hi ehern, thank you, now at leaat you know the meanings of colors in their culture, It has been snowing here for the past 24 hours and I have some nice pics here, I wonder if I cna make a hub out of it, it is 20 inches already outside amazingly cold, hmm,,,BRRR how about there? Maita

anglnwu on February 11, 2010:

Even though I'm Chinese by race, I still find the information fascinating. Red is such an auspicious color and if you go visiting during Chinese New Year, you go in red (or something bright like pink or yellow) or you may get disapproving stares from the older generation. Unfortunately, it's not my personal favorite, so I wear red only when I'm expected to. Thanks for the lovely hub.

Holle Abee from Georgia on February 11, 2010:

Interesting! Thanks for sharing, Maita!

Papa Sez from The Philippines to Canada on February 11, 2010:

Hi Maita, red and yellow brings out happy thoughts and optimism. It's no wonder lots of people want to see them in their surroundings. Cheers!

Petra Vlah from Los Angeles on February 11, 2010:

I love the significance of the colors and the way you explained each one of them. At a Chinese wedding we attended last year everything was so red I figured it may have a special meaning, but did not know what; now I know; thank you

theirishobserver. from Ireland on February 11, 2010:

Brilliant Hub pretty, great insight, there are 70,000 chinese live in Ireland, but we don't really interact as they are always working in their restaurants...thanks...Irish

ehern33 on February 11, 2010:

Thanks for the infor Maita, it is really a beautiful tradition and the colors used make sense to me now. Any snow in your part of the woods yet? Expecting some here tomorrow. Not much but for us, very very rare.

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Yes white is use for mourning and so seldon you see Chinese also wearing white dress, How are you Ktrina?? Thank you, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Thanks tnflash, I am grateful you drop by here, Now you know, are you gonna wear the red color now?? LOL Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

hi blpelton, nice of you to come by again, how are you, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Zsuzsy Bee, thank you for dropping by to comment here, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

hi Hello, thanks for your comments, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Hi Cris, thanks is red a fav color of yours too?/ Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Hi Tony, Thank you for your comments, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Hi Quill, yes gray is not so lively, red rocks, YEHEY, thanks SIR, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Hi Sage, I am glad you drop by here again and thanks for your nice compliments, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Hey mystique where did you learn those Filipino words hehe, I am glad you like what I am writing, as I like your articles as well, I am glad you're my kaibigan too, always--

Salamat (thanks), Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

SHHH Dohn, that's nice I love kimchi by the way, oh that's their symbol of cheaitng I don't know the reason behind it -- green, in some culture I think it is a symbol of jealousy as well, and silver is like offwhite as well, used for mourning, they don't like white or silver as it is blank, usually they prefer bright colors red, HMM< you know these already,

Do you also celebrate New year like the Chinese do DOHN???

Thank you, Maita

Mystique1957 from Caracas-Venezuela on February 11, 2010:

As usual: Great hub, Maita! "Pag-ibig ko ang iyong pagkamalikhain kapag isulat mo ang iyong hubs! Ako ay masaya na maging kaibigan"

Besides, I am truly passionate about Asian cultures.

Two Thumbs up!

Warm regards and blessings,

Al

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Hi Beth, thanks for dropping by here and for your nice compliments as well, Kung Hei Fat Choi and Happy Valentines to you, now we can use your recipe as well, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Hey mama, that's good wearing red, I am sure you and papasez will have a good Valentine's Day as well, best to you and Kung Hei Fat Choi, here's to your good luck, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Hi Micky, lots of people like the color red, its bright and seem a joyful color, thank you for reaidng this hub, TC, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Thanks lorlie for reding this one, I like the color red as well, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Thank you alexandriaruthk, I am glad to be a fan too, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Hi RevLady, thnak you for your very nice comment, Maita

prettydarkhorse (author) from US on February 11, 2010:

Hi Ghost, yes the number red in dresses are beautiful, I am sure you will look good in red?? Thanks, Maita