Color Symbolism


Colors in Christianity

In Christianity, color symbolism is primarily used in liturgical decorations (banners, vestments, etc.) and to a lesser degree in Christian art. Symbolic colors are rarely used in the Bible. See our articles on specific colors for details.

Colors in Buddhism

Color symbolism is used in a wide variety of fascinating ways in Buddhist art and ritual. In Buddhism, especially in Tibetan Buddhism, each of five colors (pancha-varna) symbolizes a state of mind, a celestial buddha, a part of the body, a part of the mantra word Hum, or a natural element. (Blue and black are sometimes interchangeable.)

It is believed that by meditating on the individual colors, which contain their respective essences and are associated with a particular buddha or bodhisattva, spiritual transformations can be achieved.

Following is a table summarizing the meaning of the main color symbols in Buddhism. Click on the color name for a full article and examples of that color.

Color Blue Black White Red Green Yellow
General Meanings coolness, infinity, ascension, purity, healing primordial darkness, hate  learning, knowledge, purity, longevity  life force, preservation, the sacred, blood, fire  balance, harmony, vigor, youth, action  rootedness, renunciation, earth
Seen In turquoise, lapis lazuli black thangkas White Tara, white elephant coral, red thangkas Green Tara  saffron robes of monks
Emotion, Action killing, anger killing, hatred rest and thinking subjugation and summoning exorcism restraining and nourishing
Transforms: anger into mirror-like wisdom hate into compassion delusion of ignorance into wisdom of reality delusion of attachment into the wisdom of discernment jealousy into the wisdom of accomplishment pride into wisdom of sameness
Buddha Akshobhya n/a Vairocana Amitabha Amoghasiddhi Ratna-sambhava
Part of Hum the dot (drop) on the crescent n/a the crescent syllable 'ha' vowel 'u' the head
Body Part ears n/a eyes tongue head nose
Element air air water fire n/a earth


  • Kumar, Nitin. “Color Symbolism in Buddhist Art.” Exotic India Art. 1 Feb. 2002. Web. Accessed 20 Nov. 2016. Excerpts reprinted with permission of the author.

Five Colors of Buddhism

Buddhism includes the concept of five colors (pancha-varna in Sanskrit). These colors are white, yellow, red, blue and green. In the Chandamaharosana Tantra: - Black symbolizes killing and anger - White denotes rest and thinking - Yellow stands for restraining and nourishing - Red for subjugation and summoning - Green means exorcism The enumeration of the colors may change but the number remains five...

Gold in Religious Art and Symbolism

Gold in Buddhism symbolizes the sun, or fire. The most valuable of metals, it is accorded a sacred status through its association with Surya, the sun god of the Hindu pantheon...

Symbolism of the (Non-)Color Black

Black, the absence of color, is most often symbolic of death. It can also represent the darkness of sin and hate. ## Black in Christianity In Christianity, black is the liturgical color for Good Friday, which commemorates the death of Christ...

Symbolism of the Color Blue

Blue, the color of the sky, appears in many religious traditions as the symbol of heaven, sky gods, eternity and spiritual life. Blue is the coolest, most detached and least "material" of all hues...

Symbolism of the Color Gray

Gray is the color of ash, so in Christianity it is sometimes used to represent repentance and may be used during Lent.

Symbolism of the Color Green

Green is the color of plant life, abundant in spring. Green is also in the middle of the visible, seven-color spectrum and thus epitomizes the qualities of balance and harmony...

Symbolism of the Color Purple

In Christianity, purple is the color for penitence and mourning, and is thus the liturgical color for Lent. It is also the color of royalty, and the liturgical color of Advent.

Symbolism of the Color Red

Red is the color of blood and fire. Throughout the development of civilization, red has had connotations with life and those things considered sacred in some way...

Symbolism of the Color White

White is occurs when the whole spectrum of light is seen together or when red, yellow and blue colors are mixed. Everything is present in white; nothing is hidden, secret or undifferentiated...

Symbolism of the Color Yellow

Yellow is the color of daylight, but may also represent corruption or humility. ## Yellow in Christianity As the color of light, yellow may be used to represent divinity in Christian art...

  • Comments
Loading comments...