Color symbolism: Yellow

Color symbolism: Yellow

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Included in the top three primary colors and in the same group as red and blue, yellow is the brightest and most life-affirming among its neighbors.

In psychology, this color symbolizes wealth, happiness, celebration. But why then are so many people wary of him? How rare it is to see the walls in the house covered with yellow wallpaper, to see a girl in a bright outfit the color of the sun or a yellow car on the street, with the exception of special vehicles or taxis. To deal with this issue, you need to study the origins of the appearance of yellow and the attitude of our ancestors towards it, as well as consider the influence of this shade on the human psyche. All of these factors combined have left their mark on the current perception of the intense yellow color that attracts attention.


Yellow is one of the first-order colors that, when mixed, produces all other hues. In the visible color spectrum, it lies between orange and green. The yellow color found in nature is the merit of carotenoids that turn gold leaves in autumn, lemons, bananas, daffodils, etc. The natural pigment protects plants from photodamage by absorbing light energy.

The history of yellow began as early as 15-17 thousand years BC. e., when ocher pigment was obtained from iron oxide and clay and this paint was used for rock painting. An example of such ancient art can be seen in the French cave of Lascaux, a unique archaeological site where, among other animals, a yellow horse is depicted on one of the walls. In ancient Egypt, yellow was also actively used to decorate the walls of tombs with drawings of gold bars or scenes with people – their bodies were decorated with gold.

The symbolism of yellow

Yellow is very controversial and has always been characterized in two ways. On the one hand, it is almost the most cheerful, positive and active color, because most people associate it with warmth, summer, daylight. He is especially loved among children and young people, from whom the energy is in full swing. If you add a little from the orange palette to yellow, you get a noble golden hue, perceived as a symbol of wealth, power and success. But on the other hand, prosperity and authority often coexist with greed, envy and betrayal, and an excess of energy, even positive, quickly tires.

Depending on the nationality, the color designation can be diametrically opposed. Yellow symbolizes:

– the sun, the divine principle, generosity, fire. This is how the peoples of ancient Asia viewed this color. In ancient Rome, it was attributed to the god of the Sun – the “radiant” Apollo. And in Egypt, it was believed that the bones of the gods were made of gold and their skin was illuminated by a yellowish glow. In late Christianity, yellow symbolizes the golden frame of the icon, spiritual light and God himself;

– wealth, glory, triumph. It is not surprising, because gold – a symbol of wealth has a yellowish tint and in colloquial speech it is sometimes called the “yellow metal”. In China, only members of the imperial family could wear yellow clothes, and high

-ranking guests were invited to the yellow carpet;

– joy, expression of emotions – it is not without reason that yellow is the internationally recognized color of emoticons (drawings denoting the emotions of participants in Internet correspondence);

– successful trade for the Indian people;

– intellectual activity and its systematization, obtaining knowledge – one of the headings of the telephone directory with the coordinates of business organizations is printed on yellow pages, and the magazine itself is called “yellow pages”. A novice inexperienced specialist is called “yellow-mouthed” like helpless chicks with yellow beaks;

– lies, betrayal and gossip in early Christianity, therefore the cloak of Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ, was depicted everywhere in yellow. In Spain, this color was used in clothing to represent heretics. Europe in the 20th century The yellow star that the Nazis required all Jews to wear when they appeared in public places served as a sign of racial segregation. Scandals and gossip began to be associated with New Yorkers and then readers around the world with the color yellow with the start of the publication of ridiculous comics about the “yellow child” in several provocative American newspapers. Pulp fiction was popularly nicknamed “yellow press”;

– feigned joy, hypocrisy for the inhabitants of France, and in Arabic there is such a thing as a “yellow smile”, that is, insincere, ostentatious;

– illness and even death. So, in medieval Europe, the yellow flag was raised on ships with a crew infected with the plague. In Iran, yellow is associated with pallor, sickness, and in Egypt and Jordan it is considered the color of mourning. In China, the last refuge of the dead was called the “Yellow Keys”, but at the same time, the yellow crane was a symbol of eternal immortality;

– parting, old age, but meanwhile the wisdom inherent in adulthood. Probably, such an association arose because of the golden colors of autumn, when the once juicy grass and leaves slowly wither. From here came the tradition of presenting yellow flowers as a sign of farewell, separation;

– danger warning. People chose this shade because of its brightness to indicate a threat, for example, places of high radiation, warnings about explosive or poisonous substances. In football, a yellow card is a warning sign. Temporary road signs indicating repair work or a detour are also made in this color due to the peculiarity of yellow to influence the visual perception of people. Yellow objects seem to get closer, moving forward, they can be seen from afar. Therefore, the “pedestrian zebra”, curbs, special marks on glass doors are also sometimes painted yellow so that potentially dangerous objects are visible to visually impaired people;

– madness – before the revolution, psychiatric hospitals were called “yellow houses”, because it was customary to paint their walls with yellow paint.

Still, the main designation of the yellow color is energy, liveliness. This color inspires and stimulates to action, energizes.


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