The Meaning of Color in Icons

19 Nov

We’ve had many discussions with regard to the colors used in icons.  I went on a search for a definitive answers that were simple, here is what I found:

White symbolizes Purity, virginity, innocence and virtue.  White also symbolizes holiness, and is the Christian color for all high Holy Days of the Church Year, especially for the seasons of Christmas and Easter.

Yellow colors symbolize renewal, hope, light and purity.  Yellow is the Christian color for the season of Easter when used with white.

Orange symbolizes courage, endurance and strength also is used for representing flame and fire.

Green symbolizes nature, fertility, hope and bountifulness.  Green also symbolizes freedom from bondage.  Green is the Christian color for the season of Epiphany.

Red symbolizes the Holy Spirit and is the color of Pentecost.  Red also represents fire and is associated with power and importance.  Crimson red symbolizes the presence of God and the blood of martyrs.  It also represents atonement and humility.

Black represents fear,  death and ignorance.  Black was also used to  indicate authority and power.  It is associated with Good Friday.

Brown symbolizes the earth, poverty and humility and is associated with monastic life.

Blue represents heavenly grace.  The Virgin Mary or Theotokos is often depicted wearing blue clothing.  Blue represents hope, good health and a state of servitude.

Purple is always associated with royalty and used for penitence and mourning.  It is the liturgical color for Lent and Advent.

Feel free to correct me  if this information is incorrect!  One of the sites I visited was and found myself wandering through all of the antique icons for sale from another link…


For a listing of pigments and their chemical properties visit




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