Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Colors and Their Meanings

Where I found this information, it was on an article on Kente cloth from Ghana. Unsure if these meanings only pertain to Kente cloth or can be used on other cloth types. But first...


The Flag of Ghana consists of the colors RED, GOLD and GREEN in horizontal stripes with a five-pointed star in the center of the gold stripe

RED represents the blood of those who died in the country's struggle for independence
GOLD represents the mineral wealth of the country
GREEN symbolises the country's rich forest and
THE BLACK STAR stands for the lodestar of African freedom

YELLOW in all its variations is associated with the yoke of the egg, ripe and edible fruits and vegetables and also with the mineral gold. In some spiritual purification rituals mashed yarn is rendered yellow with oil palm and served with eggs. It symbolizes sanctity, preciousness, royalty, wealth, spirituality, vitality and fertility.

PINK is associated with the female essence of life. It is viewed as red rendered mild and gentle, and therefore associated with tenderness, calmness, pleasantness, and sweetness. According to Akan social thought, these attributes are generally considered as essential aspects of the female essence.

RED is associated with blood, sacrificial rites and the shedding of blood. Red-eyed mood means a sense of seriousness, readiness for a serious spiritual or political encounter. Red is therefore used as a symbol of heightened spiritual and political mood, sacrifice and struggle.

BLUE is associated with the blue sky, the abode of the Supreme Creator. it is therefore used in a variety of ways to symbolize spiritual sanctity, good fortune, peacefulness, harmony and love related ideas.

GREEN is associated with vegetation, planting, harvesting and herbal medicine. Tender green leaves are usually used to sprinkle water during purification rituals. It symbolizes growth, vitality, fertility, prosperity, fruitfulness, abundant health and spiritual rejuvenation.

PURPLE is viewed in the same way as maroon. It is considered as earth associated with color used in rituals and healing purposes. It is also the color used in rituals and healing purposes. It is also associated with feminine aspects of life. Purple cloths are mostly worn by females.

MAROON has a close resemblance to red-brown which is associated with the color of Mother Earth. Red-brown is usually obtained from clay and is therefore associated with healing and the power to repel malevolent spirits.
WHITE derives its symbolism from the white part of the egg and from white clay used in spiritual purification, healing, sanctification rites and festive occasions. In some situations it symbolizes contact with ancestral spirits, deities and other unknown spiritual entities such as ghosts. it is used in combination with black, green or yellow to express notion, spirituality, vitality and balance.

GREY derives its symbolism from ash. Ash is used for healing and spiritual cleansing rituals to re-create spiritual balance when spiritual blemish has occurred. It is also used in rituals for protection against malevolent spirits. Grey is therefore associated with spiritual blemish but also with spiritual cleansing.

SILVER is associated with the moon which represents the female essence of life. Silver ornaments are usually worn by women and are used in the context of spiritual purification, naming ceremonies, marriage ceremonies and other community festivals. it symbolizes serenity, purity and joy.
GOLD derives its significance from the commercial value and social prestige associated with the precious mineral. Gold dust and gold nuggets were used as medium of exchange and for making valuable royal ornaments. It symbolizes royalty, wealth, elegance, high status, supreme quality, glory and spiritual purity.

BLACK derives its significance from the notion that new things get darker as they mature; and physical aging comes with spiritual maturity. The Akans blacken most of their ritual objects to increase their spiritual potency. Black symbolizes an intensified spiritual energy, communion with the ancestral spirits, antiquity, spiritual maturity and spiritual potency.


The Adinkra cloth^ made by the Ashanti people of Ghana tells a story through its many
layers of symbolism. The color of the cloth represents an emotion or concept, such as
love, riches, growth, love or sadness. Adinkra cloth is worn typically at funerals and farewells. Dark colored adinkra cloth in brick red, brown or black symbolizes death. Alternately, bright colored adinkra cloth in white, yellow or blue is worn for festive or happy occasions. Adinkra cloth is still very popular in Ghana today.

Kente cloth^ made by the Fante of Ghana has many different designs and colors with various meanings. Red is the symbol of bloodshed and is frequently worn for political meetings and rallies. Green represents fertility and you can see it worn often during a young girl's adolescence. White symbolizes purity or victory. Yellow represents maturity or glory and chiefs frequently wear this color. Blue symbolizes love, and black represents aging.

images found on Google: "ghana flag," "adinkra," and "kente"


  1. I would just like to make a comment that I had a hard time searching for Ghana's natural dye history. I found general dye history, but nothing that specifically pertained to Ghana and their natural dyes. I will keep searching...

  2. Amanda
    You may want to look dye info related to writings on the process of making pre-colonial fabrics like Adinkra or Kente.