The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

Whenever it comes to an important Chinese holiday, the National Day of China or the Chinese New Year. You would always see red color in various places in China. Besides adding to the festive atmosphere, the color red is also an important part of the world’s perception of China.

Why does red represent China? How did red become the favorite color of the Chinese people? Today we will talk about the China-red!

 

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How much do Chinese people like red?

China-red, as the underlying color of Chinese culture, is everywhere, all the time.

Such as the vermilion gate, red walls and pillars of the Forbidden City, or the redwood furniture and red quilts of people’s homes.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

From the bride’s red veil, red wedding dress, red embroidered shoes, etc., to the red Dudou (肚兜) worn by children.

And red Fai Chun, red lanterns, red paper cutting, red envelope, red seals …… There are too many objects off red in China to count. The Chinese can be said to have applied the color red to an extreme.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

Chinese directors also like to apply red in their films, such as Zhang Yimou. The films “Hong Gao Liang (红高粱)”, “Ju Dou (菊豆)”, “House of Flying Daggers (十面埋伏)” and “Curse of the Golden Flower (满城尽带黄金甲)” have a strong impact with the large color block application and the gorgeous and pleasant red color.He has also said that the customs of his hometown have deeply influenced him, so he prefers red.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

One of China’s national treasures, Chinese painting also has the use of red. Chinese painting is also known as Dan-Qing (丹青), and Dan means vermilion, or cinnabar.

As one of the five colors of Yin and Yang (阴阳), red has a place in the history of Chinese painting. In landscape painting and figure painting, red is often used to render the atmosphere or embellish. For example, the paintings of the Tang Dynasty “A Palace Concert” and “Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair With Flowers”, all use vermilion to varying degrees.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

China-red is a prominent symbol of traditional Chinese cultural colors. Not to mention its widespread use in auspicious celebrations such as weddings, red has also been chosen for many important designs in China. For example, the emblem of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the logo of the China Pavilion at Expo 2020 both typically use “Chinese red”.

 

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Was red popular in ancient China?

Did the Chinese always like the color red? The Book of Rites has recorded that “The Xia dynasty favored black, the Shang dynasty favored white, and the Zhou honored red.” That is to say, the colors promoted by each dynasty were basically changed according to the five elements.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

In ancient times, the three most worshiped things were the sun, fire, and blood. It is written in ancient books that the ancient people worshipped the sun because the sun represents life, so the red color, which symbolizes the sun, was favored. However, the five elements doctrine has too much influence on people. Why some dynasties dragon robe is black, some is yellow, some are red, the reason is the five elements theory.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

We all know the traditional Hanfu wedding dress Fengguan Xiapei (凤冠霞帔) is red. But in the Zhou dynasty, when the wedding is worn black clothes. In the Legend of Mi Yue (芈月传), when Princess Mi Shu of Chu got married, her wedding dress was mainly black, with red as a backdrop, while the wedding dress of Tang women was lime green, and even the wedding dress of Wei and Jin was white.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

However, the Zhou Dynasty did often use red. War to choose red war horses, sacrifices to choose red cattle, and even funerals to choose the early morning sunrise when the sky is full of red haze burial. Even the floor of the palace of the Zhou dynasty was painted red.

There is also a red bird is a representative of good luck, the ancestors believe that this is a divine bird in the sun, has the supreme power to ward off evil, painted it in the silk painting.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

However, at that time, the use of red was still only for the imperial family. So, since when did red become popular?

It starts from the Tang and Song dynasties. At that time, the porcelain industry was booming, and in all porcelains, the top quality products that came overseas through trade were reddish-brown because the porcelains fired in Gong Hong (巩红, a red decorative process on porcelain) were better. Foreigners then called this color China-red, or Chinese red. By this time, red was no longer exclusive to the emperor. By this time, red was no longer exclusive to the imperial.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

And in the Ming Dynasty, red became the dominant color in one fell swoop.

Since the emperor of the Ming Dynasty was surnamed Zhu (朱, in Chinese, 朱 also means red.), the use of red was promoted in national politics and culture. However, in the early Ming Dynasty, the red color only belonged to the imperial harem, folk was not allowed to use it.

But in the late Ming Dynasty, due to the prevalence of money worship and changes in social values and ethical and moral concepts, people began to usurp the system and the color red came into the common people’s homes, and red culture thus reached its peak in the Ming Dynasty.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

And the most typical application of red in the Ming Dynasty is the Forbidden City. The stately and atmospheric red palaces and walls, the exquisite and elegant red corridors, the dazzling red glazed tiles, every place is using red to show the supreme status and power of the ruler. So gradually, the red culture permeated all aspects of China and became the representative of the nation.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

title-081China today attracts the world’s attention with its unique oriental charm, so much so that the image of China in foreign countries is the color red. The World Trade Center in New York, the Tokyo Tower, and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai have all been lit up in red to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Red is not only a favorite color in the hearts of Chinese people, but it is also perhaps the representative color of China recognized by the whole world. Just as it represents the vitality of life, of course, the ancient Chinese red is constantly being injected with new vitality and new brilliance.

The Brief History of the Fascinating China-Red

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