Animals that are white are considered sacred to many cultures. For example, a white elephant was considered very sacred to the people of historical Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. White elephants are also found in Buddhism, as they are associated with the birth of Buddha. White buffalo were considered sacred among the Native Americans of the Great Plains, as they symbolized fertility and the gods of the earth.
Western World Edit
White is the traditional color of bridal dress in both western (European) and Japanese weddings. In Western weddings, a white dress is thought to be symbolic of purity (the bride has not engaged in pre-marital sex). This is also said to be the symbolism of the veil. In Japanese weddings, white is to symbolize the "death" of their former family and their introduction into their new family.
In some Asian cultures, white is considered to be a color that represents death. White also represented death in ancient Egypt, representing the lifeless desert that covered much of the country; black was held to be the color of life, representing the mud-covered fertile lands created by the flooding of the Nile and giving the country its name (Kemet, or "black land"). The association of white with purity and peace is used by many religions. In Judeo-Christian tradition, white represents the purity and divinity of God's Word given to his followers.
White and black has the biggest visual contrast, this can easily be associated to other opposite concepts such as day and night or good and evil. White often represents purity or innocence in Western Civilization, particularly as white clothing or objects are easy to stain. In most Western countries white is the color worn by brides at weddings. Angels are typically depicted as clothed in white robes. Healing or "good" magic is called White magic. In early film Westerns the stereotypically "good guy" wore a white hat (earning them the name "White Hats") while the "bad guy" wore black (earning them the name "Black Hats"). This has given rise to the use of the names black hat and white hat for people who abuse and counter abuse of computer systems respectively. In popular culture this idea is sometimes reversed to play on reversal of stereotypes.
In taoism which has great influence in Eastern culture Yin and yang is usually depicted in black and white, depicting the two colors as opposites. The two opponents in board games of abstract strategy often has one as white, such as go, chess, and checkers.
Poets such as Sylvia Plath use the colour white to symbolise death.
East Asia Edit
In historical and modern East Asia, white represented the element Metal, Autumn, West, and death. Its association with death led to its use as the traditional color of mourning. Also, it represented ghosts because white is an intangible color that hides nothing.
Much like in East Asia, white was seen as the colour of death and decay, associated with the infertile desert and with chaotic gods like Set and Sekhmet. However, due to it's simplicity, deities were often depicted wearing white clothes.