8 Colors and Their Symbolism in Chinese Culture

Culture plays a significant role when it comes to associating symbolic or hidden meanings with different colors. China is a country rich with heritage, and uses colors symbolically within every ceremony, festival, and ritual.

Compared to Western culture, China has a different and more powerful scale of color symbolism. The Five Elements Theory (Metal, Fire, Water, Wood, and Air) play a very important role in influencing many of the Chinese customs and beliefs. The color theory is based on these five elements, and five of the most popular colors in China also correspond to these five elements.

Black = water? Yellow = earth? Who knew! Here are 8 Colors and Their Symbolism in Chinese Culture.

1.) Red - Fire

Red is a popular color in Chinese culture, symbolizing luck, joy, and happiness. It also represents celebration, vitality, and fertility in traditional Chinese color symbolism. Red is the traditional color worn by Chinese brides, as it is believed to ward off evil. Red also represents the summer season and the element of fire that comes with it. Decorate your kitchen in red to attract good luck to your household.

Red - Fires

Red - Fires

Red - Fires

2.) Yellow – Earth

Yellow is an imperial color in traditional Chinese color symbolism, representing power, royalty, and prosperity. It also represents the late summer season and the central direction. Yellow represents the earth in traditional Chinese culture. Decorate your kitchen in yellow to attract good fortune to your household.

Yellow - Earth

Yellow - Earth

3.) White – Metal

White represents the element of metal in traditional Chinese culture, also symbolizing purity and innocence. In some instances, however, white is associated with death and is a color commonly worn at funerals. Today in China, white is a popular color for consumer goods and is a common color choice for cars. White in your kitchen or household represents purity and renewal.

White - Metal

White - Metal

White - Metal

White - Metal

4.) Black – Water

Surprisingly, the element of water is represented by the color black in Chinese culture instead of the traditional blue.  Black is not the happiest of colors in traditional Chinese color symbolism, representing destruction, evil, cruelty, and sadness. The Chinese word for black is ‘hei’ which stands for bad luck, irregularity, and illegality. However, this doesn’t apply to your kitchen, as black is a gorgeous color when used in kitchen decor. Tres chic!

Black - Water

Black - Water

5.) Blue – Wood

Blue represents the element of wood in Chinese culture, also symbolizing immortality and advancement. Blue also represents the season of Spring. Use blue in your kitchen to represent growth and optimism.

Blue - Wood

Blue - Wood

Blue - Wood

Blue - Wood

6.) Green

Green is similar in both Western symbolism and traditional Chinese culture. In the West, green stands for harmony, wealth, growth, and eco-friendliness. In Chinese culture, green stands for cleanliness and purity from contamination. Green is used to describe organic things, like calling organic milk “green milk” or calling pesticide-free vegetables "green vegetables". Use green in your kitchen decor to represent the environment and good health.

Green

Green

Green

Green

7.) Gold

Gold symbolizes wealth and riches in Chinese culture, which is the same in Western culture. In fact, no matter where you are in the world, gold represents wealth. It is gold, after all! Use the color gold in your kitchen decor to attract prosperity to your home.

Gold

Gold

8.) Purple

In traditional Chinese symbolism, purple symbolizes divinity and immortality. In modern times, purple is used to represent love or romance. Use purple in your kitchen to attract love and affection.

Purple

Purple

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8 Colors and Their Symbolism in Chinese Culture