Cinnabar Red in Chinese Culture

Updated: Jul 17, 2021


Cinnabar Red of Chinese Color
Cinnabar Red

Since Oracle Bones originated in the Shang Dynasty (1600 B. C. — 1046 B. C.), Cinnabar had been used to color or directly write those inscriptions on bones. Founder of Han Dynasty (202 B. C. — 220), the Emperor Liu Bang, was believed the son of Emperor Yan (Yan means Fire and Red in Chinese Language); therefore, the Cinnabar Red became one of the most orthodox color in the history of China for the next thousands of years, until today.

Oracle Bones Colored using Cinnabar Red
Oracle Bones Colored using Cinnabar Red

Many stone inscriptions and emperors’ written comments are Cinnabar Red, as well as Buddhism and Taoism Religion’s scripture, the charm and alchemy.


Moreover, only honorable families could paint their front door using Cinnabar Red, such as the Forbidden City.

Cinnabar Red Gate of Forbidden City
Cinnabar Red Gate

Nowadays, Cinnabar Red is still the most popular and lucky color in Chinese culture, which are used in couplets for Spring Festival, wedding gown of traditional Chinese Wedding Ceremony, many lucky decorations, as well as the Chinese national flag.

Wedding Gown of Traditional Chinese Wedding Ceremony
Wedding Gown of Traditional Chinese Wedding Ceremony