Color spectrum in Western and Chinese science

This graphic shows the color spectrum used in traditional Chinese philosophy and science (authentic feng shui, medicine, etc.). It is based on wuxing (Five Element Theory).

Color spectrum from science (Chinese & western)

This is the same spectrum you learned in grade-school science. In Chinese science, the spectral colors are arranged as follows:

  • yang chi — From red to yellow and orange (760 to 575 nanometers)
  • yin shui — From green to violet-black (575 to 380 nanometers)

McFengshui color spectrum

The color spectrum used in McFengshui is based on the bagua invented by Lin Yun. The spectrum is radically different for several reasons.

  • The McBagua flows counterclockwise
  • The color scheme defined in the McBagua does not follow science (Chinese or otherwise)
  • The color gaps suggest tritanomaly (low blue color blindness).
McFengshui color spectrum

Read the following table to understand how McFengshui relies on Western color symbolism and theory, along with the New Age fraud of Color Therapy. The science of color is missing from McFengshui — just as Chinese color symbolism and theory is missing from McFengshui.

Scientific research suggests that color affects human performance based on mood and the value assigned to the color in a particular culture.

Direction Color Lin Yun’s
Western & Chinese
South Red Fame Western > Traditionally, red is the color on the shields of heroes and famous achievers, such as Hannibal. In European blazonry it means generosity. Red ochre has always suggested life and warmth, vitality, and strength. In the Eurowest red is a symbol for alertness, aggression, and sexuality.

This Old House Magazine (2003) identifies red as intense, high energy, and representing passion with a touch of danger and aggression.

Red was the Celtic color of death and the otherworld. In Western Color Therapy it is courage, self-confidence, vitality.

Chinese > Marriage, and the birth of sons (“happiness red” is a fairly specific hue). The Chinese emperor wrote his edicts in vermilion. In Chinese science and philosophy red denotes spice, vitality, and energy at its maximal state about to begin decline.
Science > Red is for sports uniforms and for memory enhancement, if you are a Westerner.

A recent study published in Science showed that Westerners performing tasks with words or images displayed on a red background did better on tests of recall and attention to detail, such as spelling and punctuation. “If you’re talking about wanting enhanced memory for something like proofreading skills, then a red color should be used” as the background, said Juliet Zhu, one of the researchers.

In 2004, anthropologists at Durham University in England found that athletes in the 2004 Olympics who wore red for matches in boxing, tae kwon do, and wrestling won 60 percent of their matches. The researchers theorized that red may convey dominance to some animals, including humans. In a study of Western creative people at cocktail parties, people in red bars frequently complained of being hungry and thirsty.

Southwest Pink Partnership, Marriage Western >Ancient Romans believed girls were born inside pink roses. Tints of red, such as pink, have gentle associations in Western culture with Cupid, love, truth, beauty, and health. Pink is the official color of Valentine’s Day, a Christian festival adapted from the Lupercalia.

The pink triangle was used by Nazi Germany to denote homosexuals.

In Color Therapy pink is friendly, compassionate, faithful.

Chinese > Designers think color mixtures (such as mulberry and red-orange) are ugly colors.
West White Children, Pleasure Western > People believe this color symbolizes innocence, and few things are more innocent than the young. In European heraldry it signifies purity and truth. In Western art, Magi and Druids wear this color, as does Jesus after his resurrection.
Chinese > This color is the absence of life — death, mourning, ancestral spirits, ghosts from the land of the dead. It’s also yang chi, and energy on the decline.
North Black Career Western > Dignity, aloofness, solitude. The all-time favorite color of medieval European nobility because of the expense of its manufacture. In Color Therapy black is stability, earthy, reliable.
Chinese > The color of bruises, therefore a sign of evil and extremely unpopular. On Taiwan this is considered an unlucky color and is associated with death. In Chinese science it’s yin shui, energy at its maximal dormancy, about to begin activity.
Northeast Blue Knowledge Western > The traditional color of the European Great Goddess and Divine Wisdom (Sophia, Chokmah), from the deities of the Neolithic to the blue robes of the Virgin Mary. Used by Western ancients to ward off evil. In Color Therapy it is knowledge, health, decisiveness.

In This Old House magazine (2003), blue is considered tranquil, calming. The color promotes relaxation.

Chinese > In premodern China, brothels were painted blue (and thus blue film = pornography). Indigo blue was the favored color for peasant clothing. It’s close to the ultraviolet end of the spectrum and therefore yin shui, energy on the decline.
Science > Blue is for creativity, if you are a Westerner.
A recent study published in Science showed that Westerners performing tasks with words or images displayed on a blue background did better on tests that required invention and imagination. For “a brainstorming session for a new product or coming up with a new solution to fight child obesity or teenage smoking, then you should get people into a blue room,” said Juliet Zhu, one of the researchers.

In the cocktail party research, people at blue bars stayed the longest. Interestingly, the positive emotional associations of the color blue are not as consistent as the negative emotional associations with the color red.

East Green Family Western > The traditional color of life, vigor, fertility, resurrection, and youth. Christian church vestments are green at Easter, the festival of renewal. In European blazonry it signifies joy, love, and abundance.

In recent studies, certain colors of green left college students “angry and confused.” In Color Therapy green is balance, love, self-control.

Green is the color of Islam.

In This Old House magazine (2003), green is said to represent nature and renewal. It is considered soothing. Dark green is associated with money and prestige and considered to promote concentration.

Chinese > Green was the color used for the sedan chairs of minor officials. Also the royal color of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). In science green is yin shui, and emblematic of the growing phase of energy.
Purple Wealth,
Helpful people (patrons)
Western > In recent studies, a shade of purple that inspired spirituality in mystics made college students feel “sad and tired.” In general purple signifies wealth and royalty, patronage, dignity, richness, mysticism and power to Westerners. In ancient times, the dyes used to create purple were so obscenely expensive that only the very rich — like royalty — could afford the color. During some reigns even selling it was punishable by death. From this grew its association with the powerful elite and their patronage. In Color Therapy it is intuition, mysticism, inspiration, creativity.

In This Old House magazine (2003), purple is considered to stimulate creativity and is associated with royalty. Pale shades like lavender and lilac are considered soothing.

Chinese > Recent color studies in China show that high school students despised purple the most. In ancient China, purple was the color worn by the grandsons of the emperor and by the literati. It’s at the ultraviolet end of the spectrum and yin shui or energy very near its maximal dormancy.
Center Yellow Health Western > Caution, information, stimulation.

In Color Therapy it is wisdom and clarity.

In This Old House magazine (2003), it is said to stimulate creativity, make people happy, and increase attentiveness. However, if the color is too strong it can increase anxiety. It is said to brighten north-facing rooms.

Chinese > Yellow was preferred by religious people and served on garments to bury the dead.

The national color of old China — the royal color of the Qing era (1644–1911), sacred to the emperor and assumed only by him and his sons or the lineal descendants of his family.
In science and philosophy it is yang chi, energy in balance, a buffer between the other phases.