Native American Face Paint Color Meanings

Significance of Tribal Colors

Each Native American Tribe has colors and symbols, that represent their beliefs in the power of that color.

Black can represent any of the following: night; underworls; male; cold; disease; and when worn as face paint represents "living".

The black color was created from wild grapes, hickory bark, alder bark,dogwood bark,and mountain mohogany bark.

Green represented plant life; earth; summer and rain. When it was worn under the eyes as face paint it was believed to empower the wearer with night vision.

The green color was made from moss, algae, lily of the valley leaves, and jumiper berries.

White represented winter; death or snow. White was also the color of peace when it was used as face paint.

Red indicated wounds; sunset; thunder; blood; earth; and day. Used as a face paint it represented violence. The red color was created from sumac berries, dogwood bark,beets, and poke berries.

Yellow represented sunshine, day and dawn. As a face paint it was the color of death, worn only by those in mourning.

The color yellow was extracted from onion skins,goldenrod stems and flowers, sunflower petals, dock roots, marigold petals, moss, peach leaves, birch leaves, and sage brush.

Blue stood for the sky, water, female, clouds, lightning, moon, thinder, and sadness.

The blue color was made from larkspur petals, alfalfa flowers, and sunflower seeds.

Brown was created from walnut shells and birch bark. It apparently was not used as a face paint.

Purple was made from blackberries, blueberries,poke berries, raspberries, and rotten maple wood. It too, apparently was not used as a face paint.

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Native American Dancers

Photo credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources / Foter / CC BY-ND
Photo credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources / Foter / CC BY-ND

The direction North was represented by the color blue and indicated cold, defeat and trouble.


was represented as white , which meant warmth, peace and happiness.


was represented by the color red, which was th ecolor of sacred fire,blood and success.


was represented by the black and indicated problems and death.

Native American Face Paint

Photo credit: kalavinka / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: kalavinka / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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Comments 23 comments

horsegorse 4 years ago

cool to see that there is actually meaning of what colours they used. Really helped me with my english assignment..

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galleryofgrace 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Albertsj, More people should pay attention to the affect colors have on their surroundings and what they wear.

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albertsj 4 years ago from Pittsfield, Ma

I loved this. I love color, but just can't be around a great deal of visual stimulation. Good hub!

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galleryofgrace 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Personally I think blue and yellow would be a good combination.

grace 4 years ago

im trying to find colors for my indian room so what colors should i use?

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galleryofgrace 5 years ago from Virginia Author

RTJ6, thanks that's a great idea! So everyone knows what we mean- the colors of the dye in the tie dyed item would have a specific meaning.

rtj6 5 years ago

good for tie dye

star 5 years ago

sorry but idk wat this is i am in 5th grade. hahahahahahha

Morningstar 5 years ago

u are awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Erin 5 years ago

Sorry I meant wrote

Erin 5 years ago

Thanks. If more people were like you and Peter and commented useful things this world would be free with badness and there would be more good. This is so interesting please post more hubs . Now for every one else when you read this write a comment don't just sit there

Sarah 5 years ago

@ Peace where is it?

Rice 5 years ago

@ peace Sounds cool.

Peace 5 years ago

Went to an awesome camp today all about Native americans.learned all about this stuff even painted my face. Thanks for posting

Vivian 5 years ago

I am so happy to find this, I thought the Native American ways were put away i am happy to see my grandchildren an greatgranchildren r able to see what i have been trying to explain to them, again thank you

pokerface 6 years ago


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galleryofgrace 6 years ago from Virginia Author

Unless it's an older Native American I would assume that the white paint represents "peace". Have not been able yet to find references as to "how" the paint is applied.

Gloria 6 years ago

Does a white stripe painted down the middle of the forehead and nose have particular significance in native american face painting?

ChloeFrog 6 years ago

thanks so much, im doing an assignment on it the meaning of colours, thanks again!!

patricia 7 years ago

what i trying to find is the colors of each tribe. Say for instance the colors of the pomo tribe here in lake co. is black, orange and white. patricia e-mail me at

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rallenbrewster 7 years ago from USA

Enjoyed the hub, I study Native American folklore but have not come across anything that explains the color meanings so clear and concisely.

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galleryofgrace 7 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks, glad you liked it.

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annvans 7 years ago

Oh now this is interesting. Thanks for sharing all of this information. I really like to learn about the native american stuff.

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