Numbers and Colors
History for Kids >> Ancient China
Numbers and colors had great meaning and played an important role in the culture of Ancient China. Some were considered lucky, while others were considered unlucky and should be avoided. Some were so special they were reserved for the emperor alone.
Numbers were important to the Ancient Chinese. They often used lucky numbers in their buildings and designs, while avoiding unlucky numbers.
- Two - The number two is lucky. The Chinese often decorated in pairs. They also have a saying "good things come in pairs".
- Three - The number three is considered lucky because it sounds like the Chinese word for "birth". It also is important in the Buddhist religion where there are three "realms of existence", "three roots of evil", and "three bodies of the Buddhas".
- Five - The number five is lucky because of the Five Elements of Chinese philosophy which are fire, water, earth, metal, and wood.
- Eight - Eight is considered the luckiest number because the word for "eight" in Chinese sounds like the word for "prosper". Even today people in China will pay more for an address or telephone number with the number eight in it.
- Nine - The number nine is lucky because it sounds like the word for "long life". It is often associated with the emperor and with dragons. The name "Nine Dragons" is a popular name for businesses and locations in China today.
- Four - The number four is unlucky because it sounds like the word for "death". It is still avoided today in China. People avoid the number four for their phone numbers and addresses. Many buildings skip all the floors with the number in them including 4, 14, and 24. Some skyscrapers won't even have the floors 40-49.
- Fourteen - The number fourteen is very unlucky because it sounds like "want to die" in Chinese.
There are five primary Chinese colors: red, black, green, white, and yellow.
- Red - Red is the color of fire, the summer, and the south. It symbolizes good luck, happiness, and success. Red is often the color used at celebrations such as weddings and birthdays.
- Black - Black is the color of water, the winter, and the north. It is also the color of heaven and was the favorite color of the first emperor of China, Emperor Qin.
- Green - Green is the color of wood, the spring, and the east.
- White - White is the color of metal, the fall, and the west. White is not considered a lucky color. It was worn as the color of mourning when someone died.
- Yellow - Yellow is the color of earth, the change of the seasons, and the center. Yellow was a special color in Ancient China reserved for the emperor and his family.
- The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China opened on August 8, 2008 at 8:08 PM.
- The number 666 is considered a very lucky number in China.
- Chinese children are given red envelopes with money inside for luck on Chinese New Year.
- Yellow was regarded as the most beautiful of all the colors by the Ancient Chinese.
- The color brown means industrious and well-grounded. The color blue stands for immortality.
- The number nine is popular at weddings because it sounds like the Chinese word for "long lasting".
For more information on the civilization of Ancient China:
Back to Ancient China for Kids
Back to History for Kids