The Art of Color March 21 2008

In South Africa, traditional Zulu beadwork designs relate to courtship and marriage. The combination and arrangement of colors can denote the marital status of a woman or it can be used as a system of identifying individuals who can be approached for courtship. Like the Zulu language itself, the bead language is rich in nuance and complexity and can only really be fully comprehended by those immersed in the culture. There are seven basic colors which can have a positive or negative connotation depending upon their arrangement. White is the exception and is always a positive symbol of purity and true love. If white is placed next to a color, the positive aspect is taken. For example, white next to blue signifies fidelity and is the conventional engagement symbol.
Positive Meaning Negative Meaning
Black Marriage, Regeneration Sorrow, Despair, Death
Blue Fidelity, Request Ill Feeling, Hostility
Yellow Wealth, A Garden, Industry, Fertility Thirst, Badness, Withering Away
Green Contentment, Domestic Bliss Illness, Discord
Pink High Birth Rank Order, An Oath, Promise Poverty, Laziness
Red Physical Love, Strong Emotions Anger, Heartache, Impatience
White Spiritual Love, Purity, Virginity None