The Meaning of Colors

Meaning of Colors - Iowa Warrior

Meaning of Colors
The meaning of colors was important to Native American Indians as each color held a special sacred symbolism. The meaning of colors changed according to the purpose they were put to. The meaning of colors used for face paint held a different symbolism than those colors used for War Paint. The Northwest tribes constructed totem poles that have unique features and colors depending upon the clan or tribe.

The meaning of colors, ornamentation, and painted decorations used to adorn sacred Prayer sticks and Talking Sticks also had special meanings and were chosen for the attributes of the colors and how these might influence the outcome of an important event. The Circle of Life, as depicted in the Medicine Wheel also contained different color meanings and symbolism. The Navajo sand paintings have a specific meaning and each color used represents a physical direction. This article provides details of the meaning of colors according to their purpose and the beliefs of the tribes.

Meaning of Colors on Sand Paintings
Sand painting designs are based on five sacred colors. The Navajo believe that the colors yellow, blue, white, and black were of great significance and meaning as they represent four sacred mountains and the four cardinal directions. The color red was also used to represent the sunshine and the Spiritual life

  • Blue meaning: The blue mountains brought the dawn and represented the South
  • Yellow meaning: The yellow mountains represented twilight and the West
  • Black meaning: The black mountains brought the night and represented the North
  • White meaning: When the white mountains rose it was day and represented the East

Meanings of Face and War Paint Colors
Every picture of a Native American Indian has a mysterious and secret meaning. The paint and symbols of a Native Indian had meaning and so did his choice of colors. What was the significance and meaning of colors used by Native Americans? There were so many tribes of Native American Indians it is only possible to generalise the most common Meaning of Colors of the paint they used. The following Meaning of colors list provides generalized details of each paint color, its significance and its symbolism.

  • Black: Victory and Success. Power, Aggression & Strength
  • Red: Faith, Beauty and Happiness. War, Blood, Violence & Energy
  • White: Sharing, Peace, Purity and Light. Mourning
  • Yellow / Orange: Intellect and Determination. Willing to fight to the Death
  • Green: Nature, Harmony and Healing. Endurance and Vision
  • Blue: Wisdom and Intuition. Confidence
  • Purple: A sacred color and symbolised power, mystery and magic

Meaning of Colors on Sacred Sticks
The meaning of colors, ornamentation, and painted decorations used to adorn sacred Prayer sticks and Talking Sticks also had special meanings and were chosen for the attributes of the colors and how these might influence the outcome of an important event.

  • Blue symbolized: Intuition, Prayer, Wisdom
  • Black meaning : Clarity, focus, success and victory
  • Red symbolized : Life, Faith and Happiness
  • White meaning : Sharing, Purity, Spirit and Light
  • Yellow symbolized : Knowledge and courage
  • Orange symbolized : Kinship, Intellect and Determination
  • Green meaning : Nature, Harmony and Healing
  • Purple symbolized : Power, mystery and magic

Meaning of Colors - The Medicine Wheel
The Circle of Life, is often depicted in the Medicine Wheel which contains color meanings and symbolism. The circle and the four equal parts and colors of the medicine wheel represent the lifespan of man and its colors and meanings are as follows:

  • Birth is represented by the color red
  • Growth is represented by the color yellow
  • Maturity is represented by the color black
  • Death is represented by the color white

The colors and symbolism of the Medicine Wheel also represent the four qualities of a balanced life:

  • The Spiritual life is represented by the color red

  • Emotional life is represented by yellow

  • The Physical life is represented by black

  • The Intellect is represented by white

Native American Culture
Native Indian Tribes Index

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