Color symbolism in Thailand is influenced by several factors: politics, Hinduism and Buddhism, monarchy, and astrology. All these factors have played a major role in shaping the meanings colors hold for the Thai people.
Let us study Thai color symbolism in detail and find out what the different colors mean.
Influence of astrology and planets on Thai color symbolism
When we talk about color symbolism in Thailand, we must mention the color of the day. Thai people believe that each day has a ‘lucky color’ or ‘unlucky color’ associated with it. Each weekday also has a corresponding planet and deity or God that influences it.
In fact, this symbolic tradition was followed by Thai armies in the past. Thai soldiers would carry flags of the day’s lucky color when they went to fight in the battlefield. The khon-sung – people having top positions in the Thai King’s army, like commanders and generals – also followed this ‘color of the day’ tradition quite strictly.
How did the color of the day tradition start?
Quite a bit of this tradition actually comes from Hinduism (India) and Buddhism, both of which have a lot of influence on Thai people. In the ancient times, people believed there was a connection between colors, astrology and the planetary bodies, mainly the sun, moon, and five of the planets.
Ancient Thai traditions stated that planetary bodies were ruled over by certain Gods. In Thai parlance, Gods or angels (thewada) influence our day to day functioning. The colors associated with the days (and the deities) influence our thoughts, our actions, and subsequently our destiny. From the same association, the names of the days of the week were taken from those planet Gods.
List of lucky and unlucky colors of Thailand
Here is a list of Thailand’s lucky and unlucky colors for each day of the week, along with the planetary bodies and deities associated with them:
- Sunday – according to Thai tradition, Sunday’s lucky color is red, reminiscent of the red of the setting sun. The day’s unlucky color is blue, which people avoid wearing on Sundays. The deity or the God associated with the day is the Sun God or Surya Deva.
- Monday – yellow or cream are clear reminders of the color of the moon. Unlucky colors to wear on Mondays are red and shades associated with it. The celestial body linked to Monday is the moon with its deity Chandra.
- Tuesday’s lucky color is pink, which is linked to the planet Mars. In India (where many of the Thai traditions come from), Mars is considered pink and not red as westerners believe it to be. Unlucky colors for Tuesday in Thai color symbolism are yellow and white. The deity of the day is Mangala.
- Wednesday’s green association comes from the link to planet Mercury. This is the day of Lord Buddha. Unlucky colors for the day are orange-red and red.
- Thursday’s orange or brown comes from the day’s association with Jupiter. The color to avoid on this day is purple. The deity for the day is Brihaspati.
- Friday’s light blue comes from its link to planet Venus. It is considered unlucky to wear black or darker shades of blue on this day. The deity associated with Friday is Shukra.
- Saturday’s purple or black color comes from the day’s link to Saturn. It is considered inauspicious to wear green on this day. The deity linked to the day is Shani.
Influence of monarchy
Surprisingly, the Thai Queen and King also have color associations. Since the current Queen Suthida Tidjai is born on a Friday, her flag has a blue background (as blue is linked to Friday). In general, light blue happens to be the Thai Queen’s flag’s color, birthday or not.
Yellow is the color linked with the King. To honor this, people choose to wear yellow colored clothes on Father’s Day and blue clothes for the Queen on Mother’s Day.
In the event of the unfortunate demise of a monarch, Thai people wear black. Black is the country’s color associated with sorrow and mourning.
Recently, the Thai King announced that his lucky color is pink. To support the king, who made recovery from an illness and left the hospital wearing a pink shirt, people also dressed up in pink as a mark of respect to the ailing monarch.
Political parties have a great influence on color symbolism in Thailand. Red is linked to the People’s Alliance for Democracy. This party is against the monarchy and aims for democracy. To show support to this party, their followers wear red colored clothes during party demonstrations and public gatherings. This not only clashes with the color associations for the day given above, but also with the yellow color, which is the color worn by those supporting the king.
Thai ‘Red Shirt Protest Rallies’ have become world-famous after they first occurred in 2005, where thousands of Thai protestors dressed in red came together for prayer sessions after the country’s military coup.
Thailand flag colors and their meanings
The flag of the country consists of bands of red on the outside, then stripes of white, and finally a double width blue stripe in the middle.
Here are the meanings associated with the flag colors:
- Red – the two red bands symbolize the nation and blood of life.
- White – represents religion and the purity of Buddhism.
- Blue – stands for monarchy.
It is also interesting to note that these colors of the Thai flag show the country’s allegiance and solidarity to its allies during the First World War.
Buddhism has specific meanings linked to popular colors and one can see this reflected in Thailand as well.
- Red comes from vermilion, the bright red powder used for anointing idols and deities in temples. The color represents the magnetizing power of love, desire, passion, and energy. It is also the color of menstrual blood, hence linked with the fertility Goddesses Lakshmi and Vasundhara, although this part may be more due to the Hindu influence and not Buddhist.
- Orange or saffron is one of the most important colors in Buddhism and Thai people follow this significance. Buddhist monks wear orange robes as the color denotes spiritual ascension, radiance, and enlightenment. It is said that Buddha Himself picked this color for the robes due to this particular meaning. However, Buddhist monk robes are not completely orange or saffron, they are also brown in parts. This brokenness in colors is meant to represent simplicity and material detachment.
Final thoughts on Thai color meanings
Many factors have influenced color symbolism in Thailand. Astrology, monarchy, Hinduism, and Buddhism have all played their parts here. As of late, Thai color symbolism has taken on political meanings with clear demarcations between red and yellow parties.
Each day has a color associated with it and Thai people believe that a particular color has the power to decide the outcome of their day.
We hope this brief introduction to Thai color symbolism helps you decipher your own color meanings to bring more luck, peace, and joy in your life.