Thailand is well-known for being a culturally colorful country, having everything from museums, temples, palaces, exquisite cuisines, and traditional clothing. You will spot color wherever you look. While this might seem exciting and adventurous, it is also an excellent spot for earning knowledge. Color in Thailand is so much more than picturesque imagination.
Color is more than just an appreciation for style and aesthetic purpose. Thai people value colors for their symbolic references. Not only are various colors considered lucky or purely spiritual, but others are considered bad luck if worn on specific days. Colors also have a connection to everyday life.
You will spot the unique use of color in various dimensions of Thai social life, from the national flag to the use of the color palette in everyday life. Moreover, color plays a significant role in Thai political debates, historical attributes, and royal importance.
Color of Thailand’s National Flag
Thailand has changed the colors and design of its flag several times throughout its history as a nation. However, each time Thailand changed its flag, the country did it according to particular metaphorical references (1). For example, the current flag is a tricolor flag; the three-colored and five-striped flags are referred to as Thong Trairong. The colors represent the nation, the religion, and the country’s King (1).
In the Thailand flag, the red color symbolizes blood; the violence and bloodshed by Thais used to maintain their nation’s independence from start to end. (1). Moreover, the white color represents the purity of religion; Buddhism is regarded as the national and most popular religion in the country (1). Lastly, the blue color in the flag stands for the country’s monarchy. Blue also shows Thailand’s solidarity with its World War I allies: Britain, France, and the United States (1).
Color in Thailand’s Everyday Life (Thailand Colors of the Week)
Thailand follows a fascinating chart for wearing specific colors coordinates for each day in the country. Depending on the lucky color of the week, you can dress according to the chart. This way, you can spend your day in Thailand with good luck, as well as fit in with the community (1).
These colors are not chosen by random choice but based on Thai traditions, primarily through knowledge of Hindu mythology. Sunday, for one, is red as the god of Sunday is Surya, who is red in color (1).
Lucky Thailand Colors of the Week:
Sunday: Red – According to history, there is the belief that Phra Isuan, who was a high God in Hinduism, captured six lions and grounded them with powder. Afterward, he wrapped a red cloth over them and sprinkled Nam Amarit, which is known as a holy powder, thus creating the Sun (2).
Monday: Cream or yellow- In Hinduism, Phra Isuan is believed to have captured fourteen angels, who he used for infinite powers to turn them into powder. Afterward, he wrapped them all with yellow cloth and made the Moon (2).
Tuesday: Pink- Pink is known as being the creation of Saturn. This was when Phra Isuan was believed to have caught eight buffaloes that he turned into powder. He created the new planet by wrapping them in soft, light red clothes (2).
Wednesday: Green for daytime and gray for nighttime- On this day, Phra Isuan rounded seventeen mystical elephants and wrapped them in a green leaf, thus creating Pluto (2).
Thursday: Orange or brown- Phra Isuan captured nineteen hermits and wrapped them in orange, creating Mars (2).
Friday: Light blue: As for the creation of Venus, Phra Isuan captured twenty-one bullocks and wrapped them in blue (2).
Saturday: Purple or black: On Saturday, Phra Isuan caught ten tigers and wrapped them in purple cloth, thus creating the planet Saturn (2).
The tradition of color started in Thailand from Hinduism in India, which played a role in forming Buddhism as the central religion in the country. Since ancient times, Thai people have believed that there is significance between colors, planetary bodies, and astrology (3).
Assuming that there is a strong connection between planets ruled by certain Gods, the colors associated with days would influence our thoughts, actions, and destiny (3). For this reason, local people follow the chart and hope that they attain good luck and follow through with the right path.
Unlucky Thailand Colors of the Week:
There is also a list of unlucky colors that you should not wear on particular days and the connection to their celestial body and God of the day (3). This can tell you what to not wear on a specific day as it would go against the particular God.
Sunday: Blue, the Sun, Surya
Monday: Red, the Moon, Chandra
Tuesday: Yellow, Mars, Mangala
Wednesday: Orange-red, Mercury, Buddha
Thursday: Purple, Jupiter, Brihaspati
Friday: Black, Venus, Shukra
Saturday: Green, Saturn, Shani
Colors with Royal Connotation in Thailand
Many colors are loved in the royal family. Despite the apparent love for yellow in honoring the King’s birth, we can see many beautiful colors used. The light color blue is typically worn on Thai Mother’s Day, known as the Queen’s color (1). Moreover, the former King Bhumibol Adulyadej struggled with an illness which is why he was always seen leaving the hospital wearing a pink suit (1).
The former personal astrologer had informed the press that pink was the King’s lucky color, so he wore it as much as he possibly could before he passed. You would usually come across monarchy supporters wearing pink to support the King (1).
Lastly, the color black is often worn in Thailand to respect someone’s passing. During the events following King Bhumibol’s death in October 2016, Thai people were seen wearing black for days and months, showing respect and mourning towards the King (1).
Colors in Thai Politics
Colors are also used to emphasize political recognition and opinion in Thailand. Political activists use different colors to make particular statements. One such example is seen in the red and yellow shirt dilemma (1). Anti-former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and pro-monarchy supporters are frequently seen wearing yellow shirts, while pro-Thaksin, anti-monarchy, and democracy supporters wear red shirts (1).
Although there can be detrimental consequences to wearing such colors during political protests, that does not mean that you can’t wear them at all. Thailand respects and values all cultures and beliefs, especially when it comes to tourists visiting the country (1).
Moreover, yellow is also used for other occasions, such as celebrating Father’s Day or honoring the King every Monday of the month (1). From this, we can gather that Thai people have true appreciation for colors when it comes to honoring their respected royal families and their desires.
We can see that color plays a huge role in shaping Thailand’s unique culture and tradition. Whether you visit as a tourist or an expat, you will find Thailand a colorful dreamscape of knowledge. The color palette is used as a sweet escape, but it instead defines what it means to be Thai. You can see the historical significance that color plays in the national flag. Moreover, colors are used as good and bad luck charms for locals. For others, colors are used to define their political stance and opinion. For most, color is used to highlight the most essential aspects of Thailand’s status: religion and love for the royal family and monarchy.
1. Hulme, Kyle. “Rainbow Nation: What 10 Colours Represent in Thai Culture.” Culture Trip, The Culture Trip, 11 May 2018, theculturetrip.com/asia/thailand/articles/rainbow-nation-what-10-colours-represent-in-thai-culture/.
2. School, Duke Language. “Did You Know That in Thailand, There’s an Auspicous Color for Every… – Thai Language School Bangkok: Duke Language.” Thai Language School Bangkok | Duke Language, 25 Mar. 2014, dukelanguage.com/2014/01/color-meaning/.
3. “What Do Different Colors Mean in Thailand?” Color Meanings, 3 Oct. 2021, www.color-meanings.com/color-meanings-symbolism-thailand/.