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What did the colour gold represent?

Many thanks for your most informative site which I have been using for my basic introduction to traditional Chinese porcelain.

My question is; During the Ming and Qing dynasties, what did the colour gold represent and was it reserved for something in particular?


Noting I could think of really

I have given your question some thought really but the thing is that gold has really never been that important in China. It had no real use before the Buddhists by the time of the Han dynasty started to need it for gilding their images, and at times gold has had the same value as silver in China.

During the Ming dynasty gold was something of a favourite colour and many old sculptures previously only decorated with colours got a new golden coating but generally as symbolic colour gold was of a low status.

The only thing that comes to mind to show this are the buttons worn on top of the officials hats during the Qing dynasty, where a golden button would indicate a Mandarin of the seventh rank.

The reason why bronze, jade and several other materials and symbols were more highly regarded then gold, is a very long and complicated subject I can't say I have more then a basic understanding of, but it is full of the sensibly Chinese peasants practical points of view and well worth a closer study.

Much more so then the westerners obsession with a yellow metal too soft for any practical purposes :-)

Sincerely,
Jan-Erik Nilsson



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