Symbolism of the Color White

White is associated with light, the sun, air, holiness, perfection, and innocence [1] and in some cases, virginity. [3] Throughout the world, it is the dominant holy color. [3] There are two opposing aspects of its symbolism.

Symbolism of Lunar-White, Pale White, White Pigment

White, when perceived as a color, such as the color of paleness or the moon, is tied in with death. [4] Ghosts, phantoms, and white women (or white ladies) are all are described as white or semitransparent white. [4]

Symbolism of Solar-White, Bright White, White as the Combined Spectrum of Colors

Meanwhile, white that is seen as the blend of the color spectrum, the white of light and of the sun, symbolizes the sun and deities. [4] This is a solar, as opposed to lunar, color, and the solar color joins with the symbolism of white as purity and innocence. [4]

Symbolism for White in General

In some parts of the Arab world, white is considered lucky. [2] In parts of the West, white symbolizes purity and innocence, which is why it is the color traditionally worn for baptismal robes and wedding gowns. [2] Blinding whiteness is attributed as the color of the angels, [6] and many people who work in health (nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners, etc.) wear white coats as a sign of their work. [6]

To the Apache of North America, white symbolizes the north for its source of snow. [6] To the Cherokee, white symbolizes the south as well as peace. [6]

In Feng Shui, white is associated with the element Metal in the Chinese Elemental system, Wu Xing. White is connected to Yang, the active principle, as well as with mourning, spirits/ghosts, poise, and confidence. [6]

In the East, white symbolizes death and mourning, [2] and Chinese funeral garments are often coarse white. [5] In India, white is a symbol for unhappiness, and in Japan certain white flowers symbolize death. [6] In Ancient Rome and Greece, people associated white with death and life. [1] In this case, white represents rebirth. [1] In China, white is associated with the direction west. [5]

In contemporary times, when used to make a flag, white denotes surrender, truce, and goodwill. [1]

White Dragon

Summary of Symbolism of the Color White

White symbolizes the purity of an unblemished light as well as powerful supernatural spirits beyond the grave, like ghosts. The association with the sun makes the symbolism of solar-white a powerful sign of holiness, purity, and wisdom, and the association with the moon makes the symbolism of lunar-white a tremendous sign of spiritual energy, danger, and death.

White Dragons

White dragons can be split into two symbolic groups: lunar-white and solar-white.

Solar-white dragons are imbued with the power the sun, a symbol of holiness and purity. A solar-white dragon is associated with a sun god or a powerful god of creation.

A lunar-white dragon symbolizes death and rebirth. It embodies a dangerous and ferocious supernatural power, likely associated with a moon god or a mother goddess.

In China, a white dragon is an omen of death, a warning. White dragons are associated with the direction south.

Dragons of Fame: Pai Lung, O Goncho

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


  1. Stevens [Ariadne's Clue] 148
  2. O'Connell and Airey 115
  3. Lanse 4
  4. Lanse 5
  5. Roberts [Chinese] 17
  6. Visual Color Symbolism Chart by Culture

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