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Native American Face Paint Color Meanings

Updated on February 8, 2015

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.

If you are reading this hub anywhere except on www.galleryofgrace. it was stolen ,please notify the author .

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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    • profile image

      Nanda 5 months ago

      Hello, i wanna know about this. I have read the story "the man to send rain clouds" by leslie marmon silko. In that story when native american dead, their face should be paint (painting face/tribal) hmm. Then my question is, what for painting face for native american? Especially when they die? Thxxxx!!

    • profile image

      horsegorse 5 years ago

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

    • galleryofgrace profile image

      galleryofgrace 6 years ago from Virginia

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

    • albertsj profile image

      jacy albertson 6 years ago from Lake Mary, Fl

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

    • galleryofgrace profile image

      galleryofgrace 6 years ago from Virginia

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

    • profile image

      grace 6 years ago

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

    • galleryofgrace profile image

      galleryofgrace 6 years ago from Virginia

      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.

    • profile image

      rtj6 6 years ago

      good for tie dye

    • profile image

      star 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Morningstar 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Erin 6 years ago

      Sorry I meant wrote

    • profile image

      Erin 6 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

    • profile image

      Sarah 6 years ago

      @ Peace where is it?

    • profile image

      Rice 6 years ago

      @ peace Sounds cool.

    • profile image

      Peace 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Vivian 7 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

    • profile image

      pokerface 7 years ago


    • galleryofgrace profile image

      galleryofgrace 7 years ago from Virginia

      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.

    • profile image

      Gloria 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      ChloeFrog 8 years ago

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

    • rallenbrewster profile image

      rallenbrewster 9 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.

    • galleryofgrace profile image

      galleryofgrace 9 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks, glad you liked it.

    • profile image

      annvans 9 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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