Symbolism of the Color Purple / Violet

Purple and violet are combinations of blue and red. Violet is equal parts blue and red. It symbolizes passion (red) balanced by reason (blue) and the temporal (red) balanced by the external (blue). [1]

Purple is a blend of red and blue in any ratio. Some purples are 'warmer' (more red) while others are 'cooler' (more blue).

Violet and purple are both associated with religious devotion and grief. [1] Buddhists regard purple as a sacred color. [2] In Thailand, purple is worn by mourning widows. [2] In Toaism, violet is the color that marks the transition from Yang (active) to Yin (passive). [1]

In Feng Shui, purple is the passive Yin force; it symbolizes spiritual awareness and healing. [3]

Historically, purple dye proved expensive to produce throughout Western and Central Europe because the ingredients were rare and costly. [2] Only the rich could afford purple garments, which is why purple is associated with royalty and wealth. [2] Members of the Catholic priesthood use garments of purple during parts of the Liturgy, especially during Lent, [2] which is why purple is a symbol of ecclesiastical power. [1]

The Byzantine and Roman emperors preferred purple for their garments. [2] In China, purple is the color of the North Star, a symbol of the center of heaven. [2] In modern psychology, violet has been shown to suppress the appetite and create a peaceful environment. [3]

Purple Dragon

Purple / Violet Dragons

Purple dragons symbolize wealth and royalty. On the other hand, a purple dragons symbolize mourning and grief. Since Taoism sees violet as the marker of the transition between active (Yang) and passive (Yin) aspects, a violet dragon symbolizes a transitional or liminal creature.

In modern artwork and cartooning, many cute or whimsical dragons are purple.

All of the dragon graphics on this page were created by Donna Quinn.


  1. Stevens [Ariadne's Clue] 150
  2. O'Connell and Airey 115
  3. Visual Color Symbolism Chart by Culture

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.