Colors are a big part of Thailand‘s culture. When you look at photos of Thailand, Thailand’s colors probably catch your eye. So, along with the beauties of this country, knowing the colorful history of this country can be interesting. If you, like me, are interested in the culture of different countries, then let’s learn together about the meaning of colors in the culture of Thailand.
The Color of Each Day
Thai (and Khmer) tradition assigns a color to each day of the week. This is why you see many people wearing yellow on Mondays, pink on Tuesdays, etc. Below is a chart listing which colors are considered lucky or unlucky on specific days of the week.
Based on astrological rules (influenced by Hindu mythology) and the color of God who protects the day, each day has a specific color.
In modern Thailand, dressing in the color of the day has somewhat lost its significance. These colors are still known by heart and people consider the color of their birthday to be their lucky color.
There is one color that appears to be more important than the other three, which is yellow. King Bhumibol was born on December 5th, a Monday.
During the first week of December, some schools even require all teachers to wear yellow to pay respect to the King.
What Colors Represent from a Historical and Religious View
Historical records describe a mystic belief that Phra Isuan, a high God in the Hindu faith, captured six lions and ground them into powder. As he wrapped the powder in red cloth and sprinkled the powder with Nam Amarit or holy water, he created the sun.
Yellow is considered lucky for all occasions. According to Hindu mythology, Phra Isuan captured 14 angels and transformed them into powder using his infinite power. As a second step, he wrapped the powder in a yellow cloth and sprinkled holy water upon the powder to create the Moon.
Phra Isuan captured eight buffaloes and turned them into powder, which he wrapped in reddish cloth and sprinkled with holy water to create the Planet of Saturn.
According to tradition, green is worn on Wednesday because Phra Isuan rounded up 17 mystic elephants and made them into powder which he wrapped with a green leaf. After sprinkling holy water he created the planet of Pluto.
Phra Isuan powdered 19 hermits and wrapped them in a reddish orange cloth, creating the Planet of Mars.
Friday: Light Blue
Phra Isuan turned 21 bullocks into powder on this day, wrapped them in a light blue cloth, and sprinkled holy water over them to create the planet Venus.
Phra Isuan caught 10 tigers on Saturday, sprinkled powder on them, wrapped them in purple cloth, and created Saturn.
Influence of Monarchy In Thailand’s Colors
Interestingly, the Thai Queen and King also have colors associated with them. The current queen Suthida Tidjai was born on a Friday, so her flag has a blue background (blue is associated with Friday). Generally, light blue is the color of the Thai flag, birthday or not.
The color yellow is associated with the King. People choose to wear yellow-colored clothes on Father’s Day and blue-colored clothes on Mother’s Day in honor of this.
In the event of an unfortunate monarch’s death, the Thai people wear black. Black is the country’s color of sorrow and mourning.
The Thai King recently announced that pink is his lucky color. People dressed in pink to show their respect for the ailing monarch, who had recovered from an illness and left the hospital wearing a pink shirt.
Political Influence In Thailand’s Colors
Color symbolism in Thailand is heavily influenced by political parties. Red is connected to the People’s Alliance for Democracy. The party is against monarchy and promotes democracy. This party’s followers wear red color clothing during demonstrations and public gatherings to show their support. This is not only in conflict with the color associations for the day given above, but also with the yellow color, which is the color worn by those in support of the king.
United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) is the official name of the red-shirts. Many red-shirts are focusing their campaigning zeal on former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Members come mostly from rural areas outside Bangkok. The red-shirt ranks also include students, left-wing activists, and some business people who view attempts by the urban and military elite to control Thai politics as a threat to democracy.
Red-shirts’ discontent goes back several years. They began as supporters of Thaksin, the prime minister who was ousted by the military in a coup in September 2006.
Buddhist Influence In Thailand’s Colors
Colors in Buddhism are associated with specific meanings, and Thai culture reflects this as well.
- The color red comes from vermilion, a powder used in temples to anoint idols and deities. It represents the magnetizing power of love, desire, passion, and energy. Moreover, it is also the color of menstrual blood; hence, it is linked with the fertility goddesses Lakshmi and Vasundhara, although the original influence may have been Hindu rather than Buddhist.
- Orange or saffron is considered one of the most important colors in Buddhism, and Thais are mindful of its significance. As the color represents spiritual ascension, radiance, and enlightenment, monks wear orange robes. Apparently, Buddha Himself picked this color for the robes because of this particular meaning. In addition to orange and saffron, Buddhist monk robes are sometimes brown as well. This brokenness of colors represents simplicity and detachment from materiality.
Thailand Flag’s Colors and Their Meanings
The flag of the country consists of bands of red on the outside, then stripes of white, and finally a double width blue stripe in the middle.
Here are the meanings associated with the flag colors:
- Red – the two red bands symbolize the nation and blood of life.
- White – represents religion and the purity of Buddhism.
- Blue – stands for monarchy.
It is also noteworthy that the colors of the Thai flag represent the country’s loyalty and solidarity in support of its allies during the First World War.
So, when in Thailand, select your colors carefully. In Thailand, it’s important to recognize the culture when doing business. Wear something yellow if you have business meetings on a Monday.
Thai people believe that wearing the right colour on the right day would bring luck. Despite the fact that most people don’t really follow this practice nowadays, some still wear or carry a small piece of clothing, such as a tie or handkerchief, that matches the day’s color.
Also, if you enjoyed this article, you can read about Buddhist colors here.