Ethnic Paintings

Home >> Painting Trivia >> Significance of Colors

Significance of Colors

Color, then, has a dual function: it fulfills aesthetic requirements, and imparts a certain meaning and tone to a work of art.

What Colors Stand For: Color Symbolism

The significance of colors depends on the cultural and social scenario they are being used in. That is to say, the same color can stand for different things depending on the situation it is being used in.

The color white , which is often associated with purity, truth and innocence, is in China, associated with death.

Consider the color blue:
-In China, blue signifies immortality
-In Colombia, it is associated with soap
-For Hindus, blue is the color of Krishna
-For the Jews, blue symbolizes holiness
-In the Middle East, blue is a protective color


The subject matter of most of the paintings at Ajanta is the life and teachings of Buddha. This covers various lives and incarnations of Buddha as told in Jataka stories. Matching a similarity with the Flemish Renaissance Paintings in which the stories are richly depicted in the settings of the artistsí world and whole mood is of life and activity. Calligraphic lines drawn at the bottom or the any other corner do a nice follow up to the painting. Paintings can be classified in to portraits, narrative illustrations and decorative ornamentation of great variety. The rocks here in Ajanta are cut in the shapes of Chaitya, Stupa and Vihara- all are important religious places of Buddhists.

The story of discovery of Ajanta can be traced far back as fourth decade of 19th century by a subaltern Englishmen. Since then many scholars and enthusiasts have done a great deal of job in bringing forth the hidden mystery of Ajanta the natural painting gallery in India. Some of them are Sir James Alexander (1834), James Fergusson (1843), Major Robert Gill (1857), Mr. Griffiths (1896), Lady Harringham (1911) and Sir John Marshall (1928).

Ethnic Paintings makes a sincere effort to take you through the journey of Ajanta Paintings in particular and Indian paintings in general.

Next, consider green :

-In China, green hats signify adultery. It is not a preferred color for packaging

-In France too, this color is not favored for packaging

-In India, green is the color of Islam

-In Ireland, it has Catholic significance

-In certain tropical countries, it is associated with danger.

Colors signify certain emotions and states of mind. Let us look at some of these:

•  Red is usually the color of passion, celebration and romance

•  Purple is associated with royalty, mystery and mysticism

•  Blue denotes security, tranquility and reliability

•  Green is the color of fertility, growth and envy

•  Yellow is generally related to illumination, brightness and illness

•  Black is the color of power, evil, sophistication

•  White means purity, truth, coldness and sterility

As is apparent, colors can have contradictory meanings; both negative and positive. It is therefore important that the significance of colors be understood not in isolation, but in the context of their usage.

Color in Painting

When an artist paints, not only does he choose what colors he will use, he also chooses how he will use those colors. That is, in what form he will use them, how much of them he will use, and what the intensity or saturation of a certain color will be. It is possible to say that a concentrated and saturated application of a certain color will signify something quite different from a sparse and light use of it.

If one compares the paintings of two Impressionist painters, Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, we will notice a marked difference in the choice and application of color. While Van Gogh uses strong colors applied in determined powerful strokes, Monet's colors are usually more delicate and carefully applied. Van Gogh's pronounced blues, reds and greens denote the passion of the artist.

The Indian Phad paintings, Patachitra paintings and Thangka paintings also employ bold colors to impart a certain vivacity and brilliance. The colors used in Warli paintings on the other hand, are restricted to whites against an earthen background.

Browse By Topic
Painting Themes
Illustrated Manuscripts
Contemporary Artist
Most Expensive Paintings
Painting Media
Famous Paintings
Painting Store
Clip Art
Schools of Art
Art Gallery
Art Museum
Popular Painting Styles
Painting Tools
Painting of the Month
Painting Tips
Featured Products
Featured Articles
Aboriginal Paintings
Black and White Painting
Dilip Chitre
Floor Paintings
Painting Magazines
Theorem Paintings
Ajanta Murals
Ceramic Paintings
Painting Classes
Painting Gallery
Miniature Painting
Madhubani Painting
Warli Painting
Patachitra Painting
Phad Painting
Tribal Painting
Glass Painting
Thangka Painting
Batik Painting
About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Sitemap