The concept of the 5 elements play a prominent role in the practice of feng shui.
And one of the attributes of the 5 elements is how each element is represented by different colors and shades of colors.
While almost all types of colors can be clearly identified as a representation of a specific element, the same cannot be said of brown.
it is almost by default that blue goes with water, gold with metal, red with fire, and so on, because we often see these colors directly from observing these elements.
But brown (which is a common color) can be observed as a dominant color found in soil (earth) and trees (wood).
It must be said that usually when brown color is present, it is associated with earth element almost by default unless expressly indicated otherwise.
So is brown color a representation of earth element or wood element?
The answer is not as straight forward as you’d like because… it depends.
Just like the 5 yellow can be an inauspicious star most of the time, but would become the most auspicious of all during it’s reigning period. This is a subject that is not as clear-cut as other colors.
If brown color is depicted in paintings as part of a plant, then it would obviously be of the wood element. And when it is depicted in paintings as part of the land, then it is obviously be of earth element.
In abstract feng shui artwork containing 5 colors representing the 5 elements, if the wood element is already represented by green, then brown would obviously represent earth.
However if earth is represented by orange color, and there’s no green, then brown would be representing wood.
This is why if, for some reason, you are erecting the 5 elements, it is best to go with the safe bet of having green for wood and orange for earth.
It was mentioned earlier and it’s worth repeating that brown usually represents earth otherwise specifically stated otherwise.
There is also a saying that light brown represents earth as that is the color of sand we see on beaches and dark brown represents wood as that is the color of tree barks. But mud (earth) is dark brown while you’d see light brown on a lot of plants as well.
So definitively associating light shades of brown with earth and dark shades of brown with wood would not be correct.
And because dead leaves turn brown, when using brown to represent wood, they can lean more towards yin wood rather than yang wood.