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Arts and culture

Grade 8

Personal and social skills

Module 1

Colour symbolism


Introductory activity (group work)

Colour symbolism (example: Zulu love letter)

Colour has a multitude of symbolic meanings and various cultural groups attach different values to different colours. Many years ago a type of communication that was based on specific colour values, came into use in South Africa. It was something in the line of a colour dictionary and was originated with glass beads in different colours that were distributed in the former Zululand from a Portuguese trading station in Delagoa Bay (Port Elizabeth). Later European dealers who settled there continued this trade in beads. When young Zulu men left their homes to work on far away farms and in towns, their sweethearts who were left behind and knew nothing about writing letters, had to develop a system that did not rely on writing to communicate with them. This led to the development of the Zulu love letter. At the beginning, different beads were merely strung together and ‘read’ from top to bottom. Later the string of beads was converted to a decorative square and the message of the beads was ‘read’ from the outside to the inside.

This therefore is where the idea of a ‘dictionary’ comes in: each colour having a meaning. Meanings differed from area to area, but generally were very similar.

Some of the well-known and general meanings are provided below. (An example of such a love letter is also included):

  • RED : intense love (my heart bleeds for you)
  • BLACK : sorrow / loneliness / disappointment (‘my heart has become as black as the rafters of the roof, as I hear you have another maiden’)
  • GREEN : jealousy / love-sickness (‘I have become as thin as a blade of new grass from pining for you’)
  • TRANSPARENT : doubt / uncertainty (‘you are like the grasshopper, springing from bush to bush’)
  • BLUE : hope / calmness / faithfulness (‘if I were a dove, I would fly the endless skies to you’)
  • WHITE : purity / faithfulness / peace / true love

An example of a Zulu love letter:

Examine the Zulu love letter above, as well as the meanings that the Zulu people attached to the colours, and discuss it in the group. Try to decide, as a group, what the letter tries to communicate. Remember that it should be read from outside to inside!

Share your opinions with the rest of the class.

While the other groups are sharing their opinions with the class, you may assess them according to the guidelines in the following assessment grid:

LO 3.4

Homework Assignment

Below is an example of a colour value chart. Talk to your family or to people in your community or environment to find out which particular values they attach to these colours and use the chart for summing up the information that you get:

LO 3.2

Activity 1 (Individual)

Name-based design :

  • For this activity you will use your own name in a design. You begin by choosing or designing a letter type (typography) that suits your personality.
  • Take a look at the different ways in which the letter ‘L’ has been written. Experiment with a number of letter types before selecting a particular type to use for your own name. Be sure that it suits your personality!






  • Use the letter type that you have selected and write your whole name.
  • Use oil pastels to apply colour to your designed name. Also make use of tone values (light and dark) and textures to add interest to the letters. (The colours that you use for the design must also be chosen according to your personality.) We regard this as arbitrary use of colour , i.e. the colour is chosen and used according to its emotional value. The sun, for example, does not have to be yellow, but could be blue-purple to suggest a sombre mood.


Learning Outcomes(LOs)
LO 3
participation and cooperationThe learner is able to display personal and social skills while participating in arts and culture activities as an individual and in a group.
Assessment Standards(ASs)
This is demonstrated when the learner:
3.1 shows entrepreneurial skills in marketing artworks;
3.2 keeps to the time schedule through management and self-discipline;
3.3 investigates career options in arts and culture;
3.4 collaborates to:3.4.1 co-operates with other members of the group during art activities;
3.4.2 shows the ability to make a personal contribution within the context of the group;
VISUAL ARTS3.8 does research with regard to the arts and shares information with other learners;
MUSIC3.7 is able to do research on the emotional aspects of music;
DRAMA3.6 is able to apply research on informal theatre;
DANCE/MOVEMENT3.5 is able to do research on career possibilities in dance and share the information.


Activity 1 (individual)

  • In this activity the learners use their own names to represent their personalities symbolically by means of the colour and of letter type (font).
  • They must develop a name design to fit their personalities.
  • Let learners experiment with a number of fonts/letter types until they find one that fits their personality. This must then be used to write out their whole name. The colours that they use for the design of the name must also be chosen according to their personality. We regard this as arbitrary use of colour, i.e. the colour is chosen and used in terms of emotional value. The sun, for example, could be blue-purple instead of yellow to indicate a sombre mood.
  • Also remind the learners of graffiti, in which ‘tagging’ refers to a name written in graffiti style as a personal mark or stamp.

Questions & Answers

the operation * is x * y =x + y/ 1+(x × y) show if the operation is commutative if x × y is not equal to -1
Alfred Reply
An investment account was opened with an initial deposit of $9,600 and earns 7.4% interest, compounded continuously. How much will the account be worth after 15 years?
Kala Reply
lim x to infinity e^1-e^-1/log(1+x)
given eccentricity and a point find the equiation
Moses Reply
12, 17, 22.... 25th term
Alexandra Reply
12, 17, 22.... 25th term
College algebra is really hard?
Shirleen Reply
Absolutely, for me. My problems with math started in First grade...involving a nun Sister Anastasia, bad vision, talking & getting expelled from Catholic school. When it comes to math I just can't focus and all I can hear is our family silverware banging and clanging on the pink Formica table.
I'm 13 and I understand it great
I am 1 year old but I can do it! 1+1=2 proof very hard for me though.
Not really they are just easy concepts which can be understood if you have great basics. I am 14 I understood them easily.
find the 15th term of the geometric sequince whose first is 18 and last term of 387
Jerwin Reply
I know this work
The given of f(x=x-2. then what is the value of this f(3) 5f(x+1)
virgelyn Reply
hmm well what is the answer
how do they get the third part x = (32)5/4
kinnecy Reply
make 5/4 into a mixed number, make that a decimal, and then multiply 32 by the decimal 5/4 turns out to be
can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
I got X =-6
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
oops. ignore that.
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
is it a question of log
I rally confuse this number And equations too I need exactly help
But this is not salma it's Faiza live in lousvile Ky I garbage this so I am going collage with JCTC that the of the collage thank you my friends
Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
im all ears I need to learn
right! what he said ⤴⤴⤴
greetings from Iran
salut. from Algeria
what is a good calculator for all algebra; would a Casio fx 260 work with all algebra equations? please name the cheapest, thanks.
Kevin Reply
a perfect square v²+2v+_
Dearan Reply
kkk nice
Abdirahman Reply
algebra 2 Inequalities:If equation 2 = 0 it is an open set?
Kim Reply
or infinite solutions?
The answer is neither. The function, 2 = 0 cannot exist. Hence, the function is undefined.
Jeannette has $5 and $10 bills in her wallet. The number of fives is three more than six times the number of tens. Let t represent the number of tens. Write an expression for the number of fives.
August Reply
What is the expressiin for seven less than four times the number of nickels
Leonardo Reply
How do i figure this problem out.
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
why surface tension is zero at critical temperature
I think if critical temperature denote high temperature then a liquid stats boils that time the water stats to evaporate so some moles of h2o to up and due to high temp the bonding break they have low density so it can be a reason
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
Crystal Reply
. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Arts and culture grade 8. OpenStax CNX. Sep 12, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11046/1.1
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