Since times immemorial, color symbolism has been used to depict beliefs, traditions, and behavior. Colors are used to represent life, death, fear, hatred, anger and joy. Most of the color symbolism represented today is handed down from generation to generation. Due to this fact, we often find that there is no uniformity in such color associations. People’s traditions, beliefs and values all play a role in these connections and associations.
Take the example of weddings. In many countries, wearing white or black at weddings is considered inauspicious. White, in India, is worn only by the widows whereas white wedding dresses symbolize purity, joy and glory in the Western cultures. In a war, the same white is used to depict “peace”. Thus color symbolism is also based on experience and observation rather than traditions only.
Using Color Symbolism
In many English speaking nations, commonly used phrases also depict color symbolism. For example “blue in the face” is an expression used to depict “a long time”. In Germany, however, the same expression means “drunk or intoxicated behavior”.
Experts thus caution color symbolism to be used very carefully by firmly establishing the context. As an example, consider the significance of different colored roses. Often, one uses the red rose as an expression of love or beauty. But, if you think about it: it may actually be the rose that is more significant here than its color itself, when it comes to expressing these emotions. Hence, when using color symbolism, it is crucial that one’s audience is also familiar with the symbolism being used. Sometimes the audience may not be familiar with an understated color symbolism as a result of which it may not serve its purpose and may go undetected. On the other side of the spectrum; overstated color symbolism, (for example: the villain always wears black and the good guy always wears white) ends up becoming stereotypical or hackneyed.
Color symbolism: Then and Now
We take colors for granted. Think about it: buying a can of paint was not always as easy as it is today. In the past, expert artists like Rembrandt were known to actually grind ingredients to make common colors for their paintings. Even certain clothing dyes, such as purple, were used only by the royals and were unavailable to the general public. This was owing to the fact that the Indigo dye was not readily available to the masses. Thus, colors have come a long way and the color symbolism has also changed down the line.
Today, there is a great deal of research being carried out on color symbolism and color associations. “Color consultants” and color psychologists are actually used for evaluating the right color palette to best suit a person’s individuality. Color symbolism and its association with the senses are very well known. Today, people are known to follow these rules and want to choose those colors that bring out the best in them.
Color symbolism thus forms a huge part of our daily lives. The sheer amount of research going on in the field is testimonial to this fact. Color symbolism is used for therapy, for enhancing businesses and the work done in factories. Color is meditated upon even “breathed in”. Take a moment to look at the colors and enjoy color symbolism all around you!