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Lin Yun's

Western and Chinese Traditions

SouthRedFameTraditionally, red is the color on the shields of heroes and famous achievers, such as Hannibal. In European blazonry it means generosity. Red ochre has always suggested life and warmth, vitality, and strength.

A sacred and vitalizing color used on festive occasions. In Chinese science and philosophy, red denotes spice, vitality, and energy at its maximal state about to begin decline.

SouthwestPinkPartnership, MarriageTints of red, such as pink, have gentle associations in Western culture with Cupid, love, truth, beauty, and health. Pink is the official color of Valentine's Day, a Christian festival adapted from the Lupercalia. For the Romans, this holiday marked the official start of bird and human mating season.

The Chinese emperor wrote his edicts in vermilion, but vermilion is identified with Li (that is, with red).

WestWhiteChildrenThis color symbolizes innocence, and few things are more innocent than the young. In European heraldry it signifies purity and truth. Magi and Druids wear this color, as does Jesus after his resurrection.

For the Chinese, white was the color of death and mourning. It's also yang ch'i, and energy on the decline.

NorthBlackCareerDignity, aloofness, solitude. The long-time favorite color of medieval European nobility because of the expense of its manufacture.

In China, black was considered the color of bruises, therefore a sign of evil and extremely unpopular. In science it's yin shui, energy at its maximal dormancy, about to begin activity.

NortheastBlueKnowledgeThe traditional color of the European Great Goddess and Divine Wisdom, from the deities of the Neolithic to the blue robes of the Virgin Mary.

Blue was the color for the sedan chairs of higher Chinese officials. Indigo blue was favored by the masses as a color for clothing. It's close to the ultraviolet end of the spectrum and it is yin shui, energy on the decline.

EastGreenFamilyThe traditional Occidental color of life, vigor, resurrection, and youth. (Christian church vestments are green at Easter, the festival of renewal.) In European blazonry it signifies joy, love, and abundance.

Green was the color for the sedan chairs of minor officials and the royal color of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Green is yin shui, and emblematic of the growing phase of energy.

Helpful people (patrons)
Purple signifies wealth and royalty, patronage, dignity, richness, and power to Westerners. In ancient times, the dyes used to create purple were so obscenely expensive that only the very rich -- like royalty -- could afford the color. From this grew its association with the powerful elite and their patronage.

In China, purple was the color worn by the grandsons of the emperor and by the literati. It's at the ultraviolet end of the spectrum and yin shui or energy very near its maximal dormancy.

CenterYellowHealthGaiety, enlivement, luster.

Yellow was the national color of old China, sacred to the emperor and assumed only by him and his sons or the lineal descendants of his family; it was the royal color of the Qings (1644-1911). Yellow was preferred by religions persons and served on garments to bury the dead. In science and philosophy it is yang ch'i, energy in balance, a buffer between the other phases.

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