A range of raw emotions

A range of raw emotions

Colours aren't just pretty. They carry meanings for beholders as some of our junior reporters learned during a visit to a local design school

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From left: Cassandra Lee, Janet Tam, William Cheng and Crystal Tai with Angela Choi, archivist from the Hong Kong Design Institute (centre)
From left: Cassandra Lee, Janet Tam, William Cheng and Crystal Tai with Angela Choi, archivist from the Hong Kong Design Institute (centre)
Photo: Gareth Pang/SCMP
What would you associate with the colour red or blue or green? Would it be energy, passion, love, sadness? The way colours shape our views of the world is endless. But they have different associations across cultures. Our junior reporters went to the Hong Kong Design Institute last week for a colourful visit ...


Taiwanese Bwa Bwei divination blocks Photo: Hong Kong Design Institute

In the inner section of the exhibition hall, traditional wedding gowns from Vietnam and Thailand shimmer in white. On the upper floor, red dominates: daily items from Taiwan, the mainland and Hong Kong are painted red and neatly arranged.

These and many other exhibits are part of the Colours of Asia exhibition, organised by the Hong Kong Design Institute and The Design Alliance Asia. The exhibition showcases items from 13 Asian regions.

They are grouped according to colour: red, yellow, blue, green, black and white. The show demonstrates the unique uses of colour across the continent.

In Taiwan, red means good luck. When facing a difficult decision in life, some Taiwanese turn to Bwa Bwei divination blocks. These red, cashew-shaped bamboo blocks are thrown to the ground, and the pattern in which they land is interpreted as a certain sign.

In Thailand, red has come to symbolise the supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Janet Tam



Crystal Tai (left) and Janet Tam check out the exhibits Photo: Gareth Pang/SCMP

Green is a universal colour for nature. Many green groups include the pleasing colour in their logos. But in South Korea protesters wearing green shirts may not be environmental activists. The colour stands for the country's labour movement.

In Islamic culture, green is a sacred colour. Not only is it used on the bindings for the text of the religion's sacred book, the Koran; it also appears on decorations in mosques. Muslims will turn their green prayer rugs towards the direction of Mecca, Islam's holiest site in Saudi Arabia, before they begin their prayers.

Crystal Tai



A Muslim prayer rug is painted in green, the religion's sacred colour Photo: Hong Kong Design Institute

During Eid al-Fitr, adults give money to children in green envelopes. Eid al-Fitr is a Muslim religious holiday which follows Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

In Hinduism, blue stands for infinity. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva saved the universe by drinking a mystical poison that turned his throat blue. That's why the Hindu deity is often shown in blue on sculptures and in images.

Cassandra Lee

The Colours of Asia is at the Hong Kong Design Institute, Tseung Kwan O, until January 31


Young Post Junior Reporters' Club organises regular activities for our members to join. If you'd like to be part of it, send your name, age, school and contact details to reporters.club@scmp.com now, with "jun rep application" in the subject bar

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