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Meaning of Colors

As a follow up to Blessing in Strings, I mentioned I would do a write up on the colors of the strings used. Each color has a meaning and can even be combined.

There are 3 basic colors that I know of, red, white, and black. I’ve heard that there is a fourth, yellow, but in all honesty, I’ve never seen yellow used. I’m not sure what the meaning of yellow would be for except represent gold or money of some sort.

Red String
Red often confused me on this as in Hmong culture, this color usually is portrayed as bad omen or evil. However, red String for khi tes represents fire. Fire is meant to protect you and shield off bad spirits, negative forces, and illness.

The string can be tied on by itself onto someone and usually is just a single string. The String is of ripped cotton cloth, tore and then ripped off.

Often times you will see a red string intertwined with white.

White String
White means peace. It is the happy and righteous energy we seek and embrace. White string brings you strength and clarity. Having white on your wrist helps to keep your soul in place where it should remain.

White is used for many joyous occasions such as weddings, new years, new babies, and even an end of suffering for healing. Often times during the khi tes ceremony of white strings, you will see many tied onto one’s wrist.

Black String
Black doesn’t really have a meaning perse, it’s more of a representation. It is said that black is a sort of iron. Black means metal, such as a shield is made of. Black strings protect you, it protects the soul. An added layer for protection.

Black is not tied by itself. It seems to be meaningless without the other colors. I have only seen it with both white and red. Never by itself with only red or only white.


Each string has it’s own meaning and can be combined into one. It’s usually braided or twisted together. 

A white and red string can be on its own. 


When you receive an intertwined string tied on to you, it signifies something very important that has happened or is happening. Its seen as sacred. You shouldn’t take it off and keep it on as long as it stays put. I don’t know why or when you receive these but I do know that for my family, we each got one when a close relative passed and then the next was around the Hmong New Year. It wasn’t for the New Year, it was just around the same time. 

The images above or just example, however, the white one is the only one I am currently wearing in lieu of the New Year. My son actually has two, one for the New Year and another for when he fell ill with the flue. As you can see it’s been on for a few weeks now with all the little fuzz balls that have been collected.  This actually is a bit tough since I’m quite the germophobe, it takes a lot for me to get past the thought of what may be creeping on the string right now. 


Anna MV

A Hmong woman practicing life finding art in everything. Blogger of Family, Life, Culture, Autism, Self Awarenes

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