Unlock the Symbolism of Icons


Icons: the Bible in Art and Color

Almost every element of an icon has meaning from the colors used to the gestures and composition.


Gold -- radiance of heaven (divinity)
Red -- Divine life, martyrdom, sin, war
Blue -- Human life, truth, humility
White -- only used for Resurrection and Transfiguration of Christ
Green -- nature, springtime, revival
Black -- death, renunciation
For example, Jesus might be depicted wearing a red garment under a blue garment to symbolize the divine who became human. Mary wears the reverse: a blue garment under a red garment symbolizing the human who bore the divine.

Physical characteristics:

Round face -- holiness
Eyes -- look straight on or at a slight angle as if gazing into eternity
Forehead -- Often high to indicate power or wisdom
Nose -- Long and thin for gracefulness
Lips -- Closed as an expression of contemplation or silence
Neck -- Often thick to indicate power and strength
Hair -- endless flow of time or eternity