Symbolic Meanings of Colours in Africa

9 Mar

From Call to Action Quilting Project http://calltoactionquilt.org/colors.html

The project will use Blue Green and Grey/Silver to symbolize the sky, regrowth and spiritual rebalance/female essence of life.

Symbolic Meanings of Colors
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 associated 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.
GRAY 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.

Color symbolism within the Akan culture affects the aesthetics of Kente. Colors are chosen for both their visual effect and their symbolic meanings.

Kente Symbolism
Kente is used not only for its beauty but also for its symbolic significance. Each cloth has a name and a meaning; and each of the numerous patterns and motifs has a name and a meaning. Names and meanings are derived from historical events, individual achievements, proverbs, philosophical concepts, oral literature, moral values, social code of conduct of conduct, human behavior and certain attributes of plant and animal life. Patterns and motifs are rendered in geometric abstractions of objects associated with the intended meaning. Sometimes, some of the patterns and motifs are arbitrarily determined, and their forms have no direct structural similarities with the concepts or objects symbolized.

The hand-woven kente cloth is not only valued for its aesthetic quality, but it is also valued for its symbolic and expressive quality.

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