Color symbolism

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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[1] and even within the same culture in different time periods.[2] The same color may have very different associations within the same culture at any time. For example, red is often used for stop signs[3] or danger.[4] At the same time, red is also frequently used in association with romance, e.g. with Valentine's Day.[5] White variously signifies purity, innocence, wisdom or death. Blue has similarly diverse meanings.

Symbolic representations of religious concepts or articles may include a specific color with which the concept or object is associated.[6] There is evidence to suggest that colors have been used for this purpose as early as 90,000 BC.[7]

Extensive associations for each color are listed in their respective articles.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitfield TW, Wiltshire TJ. (Nov 1990). "Color psychology: a critical review". Genet Soc Gen Psychol Monogr 4 (116): 385–411. 
  2. ^ Birren, F. (2006). Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 9781425424107. Retrieved 2015-03-22. 
  3. ^ "Regulatory Signs | Standard Highway Signs Metric Edition" (PDF). 5 December 2004. Retrieved 2015-03-22. 
  4. ^ File:Zeichen 101.svg
  5. ^ "valentine - Google Search". Retrieved 2015-03-22. 
  6. ^ "religious symbolism and iconography." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 17 February 2010 <>.
  7. ^ Hovers, E.; Ilani, S.; Bar‐yosef, O.; Vandermeersch, B. (2003). "An Early Case of Color Symbolism: Ochre Use by Modern Humans in Qafzeh Cave". Current Anthropology 44 (4): 491. doi:10.1086/375869.  edit

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