A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

The Social Symbolism of Colours in Sudan’s Social Discourse

Issue 46
The Social Symbolism of Colours in Sudan’s Social Discourse

By Dr Rahil Al Arifi


Colour has a significant influence on the lives of humans. Each colour is linked to certain concepts with multiple accumulated connotations. Since ancient times, man has been discovering colour’s effects on the human psyche, including the effects of the colours of the fruit, trees, sky, light and sun in the environment. Man has always been amazed by the colours in nature and their representations, which give them symbolic values and create communal connotations. Eventually, colour became a language of visual symbols. Colour is associated with the social context, which determines the colours' symbolism.


The connotation of colour symbolism depends on the observer’s experience. It represents the semantic levels in literal and non-literal meanings. Colours' symbols are associated with universal and psychological factors. The symbolic significance of colours has a primary connotation and a secondary connotation formed as a result of the way in which the symbol is perceived.


Material culture is a vital tool for the visual representation of colour symbolism. In social discourse, it is a vital resource for the understanding of rituals and ceremonies. The importance of colour symbolism lies in the perception and interpretation of the type of celebration or ritual.


The researcher concludes that the semantic system of colour is a tool that caters to social and ideological concepts, and that colour is a characteristic of light and light does not exist without shadow. Colour had the same symbol and meaning for various ancient peoples, and it has a universal connotation that is closely and strongly associated with different societies.


Most ritual practices that take place in society include a complex symbolism in terms of colour and shape, although sometimes colour is symbolic and unrelated to form. Through symbolism, colour unconsciously enhances the meanings of signs. The semantic scope of the colour system enhances the connotations of other signs such as magical signs, holy signs and metaphysical signs.

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