As you know, we’re currently in love with the colour blue. Our new Beijing Blue collection is the focus of our devotion – handcrafted from chunky reclaimed pine with distressed powder blue doors, each piece is totally unique. In this blog post, we thought we’d find out more about the colour blue and in particular, about its meanings in Chinese tradition and culture.
So, what about blue? It’s the colour of Earth’s largest creature, mosquitos love it, and Joni Mitchell wrote a song about it. It’s the colour of the sky, the sea and if you paint a room it, you’ll be more productive. We talk about ‘feeling blue’ or things happening ‘once in a blue moon’, and a ‘bolt from the blue’.
Although there is now a separate word for ‘blue’ (蓝) in Chinese, it was traditionally grouped with green under the name ‘qing’, whose character (青) derives from the idea of sprouting plant life. The traditional Five Elements Theory classes black, red, ‘qing’, white and yellow as the standard colours, corresponding to the five elements of water, fire, wood, metal and earth. Before the Five Elements Theory, there were only two colours: the opposing yet complementary shades of black and white – yin and yang.
Blue is a colour of mixed meaning in China. Traditionally, some family members wear blue to funerals in China, in the same way that the western world wears black. Generally though, blue is seen to represent nature and renewal, and demonstrates vitality. It’s the colour of spring, and represents vigour and growth. Even during funerals, blue is not seen as a colour of mourning because many Chinese believe that the body is just moving onto a different state.
‘Qing’ is closely linked to historical buildings and clothing, like qing bricks, and qing pattern porcelain. Antique blue and white Oriental porcelain has been highly prized in the West since the 17th century and commands great prices at auction.
In Feng Shui, decorating in blue will bring longevity and harmony. Blue establishes calm, and as it’s the colour of sky and sea, it gives a sense of vastness. Decorators who are feeling depressed should avoid this colour, as should those who feel the need to be more sociable. If you want to generate increased income, incorporating blue can stimulate wealth. Blue colours are said to bring water energy into your home, and money into your life. Simply painting your front door a rich blue (but only if your home faces southeast, north, east, or southwest) will help to start the flow of wealth into your home.
Blue stands for healing, relaxation, exploration, trust, calmness and immortality. Perhaps we all need a little more blue in our lives?