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Why is Cao Cao blue?

Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:32 am
by TheNewTeddy
I've played Romance of the Three Kingdoms for the NES by KOEI - as far as I know the first video game about the three kingdoms period. In it, Cao Cao's forces are given the colour Blue. while he's been seen in both Purple, and Red, he's usually depicted in Blue.

Now it is possible that when designing the first game, they simply decided to give the major forces primary colours, and randomly assigned them. However

Is this the full and true story; or is there some greater reason Cao Cao is Blue? Was there a mention of the colour of his banners anywhere, for example?


Edited to add
I'm also not just asking about him in particular. Yuan Shao tends to be Yellow, the Sun family is Red, Liu Bei tends to be a Green of some sort, etc.

Re: Why is Cao Cao blue?

Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:51 am
by Zyzyfer
It's just a game invention...probably because they're clearly defined from each other on the in-game maps.

It's been discussed before on this board.

I suppose it could be further extrapolated that Cao Cao is blue for his icy and calculating nature, the Suns are passionate so red, and Liu Bei is a tree-hugging hippie so he's green.

It made me think about the almost crest-like flags that III used, almost definitely not historical but had a bit more personality. When did they introduce the flat colors, IV?

Re: Why is Cao Cao blue?

Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:34 am
by lorindir
Yes, it was at IV (III was flag with simbols inside).

Re: Why is Cao Cao blue?

Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:20 pm
by DragonAtma
Because Koei.

Seriously, Koei makes a TON of three kingdoms games; they decided to standardize Wei as blue, Wu and red, and Shu as green, and they're so widespread they're de facto the official colors.

For comparison, in past elections, news sites would randomly assign one of blue/red to democrats and the other to republicans. Then, purely by chance, the major news sites happened to agree on "democrats = blue, republicans = red".... in the 2000 election which dragged on and on and on for weeks. While neither party may have official colors, if you tried making the democrats red and the republicans blue people would star at you as if you grew a third arm.

As for OFFICIAL colors:
Han is red.
Yellow Turbans is yellow.
Zhong is yellow.
Wei is yellow.
Wu is yellow.
Shu is red.
Jin is white.

Why the color reuse? Because of the five powers theory. Basically, each dynasty has an internal element (fire, water, wood, earth, or metal). Each of the elements succceeds one and conquers one in a rock-paper-scissors way (and is succeeded by one and conquered by one). Shu claimed to be part of Han, and therefore used Han's red (fire). Natural succession is considered more legitimate than outright conquest, so Yellow Turbans, Zhong, Wei, and Wu (all of whom claimed to succeed the Han) use earth (yellow). And Jin succeeds Wei, so they use metal (white).

Re: Why is Cao Cao blue?

Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:10 pm
by plunged
Just wanted to add that Jin reigned through the Power of Metal, but it may not have adopted it's corresponding colour of White, as Sun Sheng says in the Song shu (History of Song):

孫盛曰:「仍舊,非也。且晉為金行,服色尚赤,考之天道,其違甚矣。」


Which, in English, means:

"Sun Sheng says: ' (...) Jin is of the Metal agent, but its clothing colour is set at Red. According to the Way of Heaven, this is an extreme violation.'"

Also wanted to add that, since ur referring to my wiki where I indeed say Shu=red, that it's not confirmed in any document anywhere that Liu Bei's Han had the Power of Fire and its colour Red, but it's (imo) assumable. His dynasty was never called Shu. He called it Han. He continued the Han-line, and to do that properly he must've used Fire and Red, like the "real" Han did before him.

Re: Why is Cao Cao blue?

Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:37 pm
by TheNewTeddy
This ended up being far more interesting than I thought it would

Re: Why is Cao Cao blue?

Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:22 am
by Cao Ah Man
So then, curious- as Minister of Han, would Cao Cao's troops have been red? Or would he as Duke and later King of Wei switched to Yellow- or would that have implied an overthrow?

Re: Why is Cao Cao blue?

Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:56 am
by DragonAtma
Officially Cao Cao was always loyal to the Han dynasty, even if everyone knew that that was pure fiction.

So I'm sure they had the same equipment colors as the Han dynasty (at least until Cao Pi started the Wei dynasty).

Re: Why is Cao Cao blue?

Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:00 pm
by Sun Fin
I guess even when he was Duke of Wei he was leading Han armies in the name of the Emperor so they would still be marching under Han banners!