White color in China

Colors in China are very important. By understanding their meaning, you can learn a lot about local traditions and avoid some troubles. One of the oldest cultures enriches colors with ethnological and mythological connections.

The white color (白色,bái sè) has a completely opposite meaning in Chinese culture in comparison with European culture. First of all, it should be noted that it is related to the western direction and the element «metal». By the way, according to the Chinese calendar, 2020, that will begin on January 25, is the year of the White Metal Rat.

White color in China

The white color is contradictory, it symbolizes strength, courage, purity, clarity and fullness but at the same time it has many negative meanings. Nowadays in China white symbolizes sadness, stupidity, failure and disappointment.

The white lotus is a symbol of virginity, purity and wisdom because hair turns white with age, which is associated with life experience and the right attitude to the world and life.

As we have already mentioned, the white color symbolizes the west, that is, a place where chaos and the death of all living things reign. In China white means emptiness and is considered not a color, but its absence.

White color is associated with old age, autumn, withering, i.e. the end of the cycle and going beyond the world. That’s why in China, during mourning ceremonies, white is used instead of black that is more common in some cultures.

The ancient Chinese wore white robes and hats only when they mourned the dead. If a Chinese woman has white jewelry in her hair, then most likely someone died in her family. The white color also symbolized death.

A white flag, meaning that death has occurred, is usually hung over the door of the dead’s house. Close relatives wear only white clothes, while more distant ones wear clothes of different colors: white, black, blue and green. Red, yellow and brown colors aren’t traditionally worn during the mourning period, which can last up to three years.

To support the family of the dead, money is put in a white envelope, as opposed to a red envelope — a gift for honeymooners and children. In political life the white color symbolizes such negative phenomena as underdevelopment, corruption.

White color in China

According to the traditions of Chinese opera, we can identify a traitor by the white makeup of a character, and by the presence of a white flower in a woman’s hair, we can guess that the heroine will fail.

The attitude towards white changed over the time due to the fact that the relationship between the East and the West began to get better. Increasingly, white is associated with grace, sophistication and nobility, as well as honesty and chastity. Therefore, now Chinese brides can be seen not only in red, but also in white wedding dresses.

Nowadays white is a popular color among cars in China (along with black) and is widely used for the production of consumer goods such as watches, mobile phones, clothes, etc.

But still, be careful about using white. You shouldn’t use white color in decorations for the holidays and you also shouldn’t wrap gifts in white paper.