Words are Gifts

Colors Represented

When I assisted a weekly Art therapy class , many years ago, I learned about the connection between colors and emotions. On numerous occasions, the students chosen to attend the sessions chose to use dark colors to express negativity, pain or worry. They got to share the meaning of their particular art work with the group at the end of each session.

In Ghana however, black is the color worn for mourning. For most funerals black is the color worn to mourn dear ones. Our traditional funeral attire for women is a black top and long skirt with a silk scarf to match. I guess here, it symbolizes pain, loss, sadness, emptiness and dread. Men can wear a wrapped black cloth or a long black shirt (boubou) with matching trousers. Some mourners settle on red and black and ask all sympathizers to wear those colors. I guess the red is easier to connect with death as it may represent blood, blood shed or pain, whilst black and white is worn mostly on the Sunday after the funeral to thank God and celebrate the life of the deceased.

The dark colors were rife during the Art therapy class. From the chat with students, you knew why their work had those particular colors and images, that day. What they represented to them and why they had selected those rather than the other options available.

This topic came to mind whilst selecting my attire for my uncle’s funeral today: I will be clad in all black, hair covered and all. In my Akan culture, this is taken very seriously, funerals are big events, seeing off dear ones has become one of the most significant social events, especially in the rural areas. Sometimes we question how funerals gained so much attention within the cultural framework but we still give this space our due, especially if you are Akan.

So for my elderly uncle F, I am off to pay my last respects, early this morning, clad in all black. In the afternoon however, I will attend the social gathering with a red cover cloth on top of the long black skirt, clearly differentiating close family members from friends.


8 responses to “Colors Represented”

  1. All clad in black. I can imagine you getting ready for the day, planning the layers and costume changes. You are part of a wise tradition. These colors have been selected carefully. I’m wondering if you have an etiquette book to look up how/what you should do in different situations. My condolences for your uncle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You wind your way from the reflections about colors to the present day relevance in such an effective way, as well as bringing in and explaining culture and traditions. I am sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have a sad day ahead, and yet a celebration of his life as well. I learned so much about the customs of your culture through your reflections about color and traditions. My deepest sympathies.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some color interpretations seem to be universal and others not. Thank you for writing on this sad day, and for teaching us. I especially liked learning of the Akan tradition of wearing black and white the Sunday after th funeral, to mourn but also to celebrate life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry for your loss. I enjoyed learning about the customs and traditions of the clothing colors.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing how your culture uses color to mourn. For Chinese culture, we also wear black (and sometimes white) for funerals. Red is reserved for celebrations like weddings and Lunar New Year. This post is making me think… can’t a funeral be a celebration of someone’s life?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Culture well represented! A highly educative slice.

    Liked by 1 person

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About Me

I am am Elementary school teacher at an International IB School in Accra, Ghana, West Africa. I write with groups of writers, such as Teach Write.


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