Color in Religious 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.
Table of Contents
- Kumar, Nitin. “Color Symbolism in Buddhist Art.” Exotic India Art. 1 February 2002. Excerpts reprinted with permission of the author.