From Ancient Rome to Pop Culture; Explore A Long Story Short of Flower History
Flowers have been around since life as we know it, and their global influence and enriched history is as colorful as their petals. Dating back to ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece, flowers were significantly used for religious and medicinal purposes. It was not until the Renaissance era popularized throughout the Victorian era that flowers were recognized as symbols of politics and fashion. Believe it or not, flowers have shaped and designed the very threaded fabric of anthropology. Check out a long story short of flower history!
1.) Ancient Egypt Flower History
The Egyptians adored flowers based on the evidence from paintings, sculptures, and scriptures. With the many varieties of flowers available along the Mediterranean Sea, the lotus (Nymphaea) reigned supreme within the Egyptian heritage for thousands of years. In detail, the lotus was often used for festive garlands, sacred wreaths, floral headdresses, and critical ingredients for healing potions. Whether florals were used for health and medicinal purposes or for rituals and religion, flowers served as an essential staple for the Egyptian culture.
(Nefertem Egyptian Art)
2.) Ancient Greece and Rome Flower History
The adoration of flowers can also be cited across the Mediterranean Sea in Greece and Rome. Ancient Greeks and Romans utilized florals for artistic and religious expression like ancient Egyptians. Floral artistry and religious symbols with flowers can be found in temples and vase paintings and Goddess sculptures. Amongst the many creative iconic sculptures of floral design concerning the garland, the cornucopia became a symbol for the Greeks for centuries.
The subtle combination of fruits and vegetables piled into baskets with flowers and wreaths twisting and spilling over the table, welcoming guests to indulge in the opulent festivities, became popularized throughout the Mediterranean region. This stylized combination influenced the popularized custom fruity flower arrangements within the Roman culture. The earliest depiction of the lifestyle use of styled flower arrangements dates back to the Roman emperor Hadrian in the early 2nd century CE. Nonetheless, flowers, especially garlands and classic floral arrangements, were popularized by the Greeks and Romans.
3.) Middle Ages and The Renaissance Flower History
Flowers were synonymous with religion and romance from the 12th and 13th century. For instance, the English Rose symbolized virtue and virginity within the church institution. The same English Rose represented passionate love and union between nobility and royalty within the court. Referencing the English history of the War of the Roses, dating approximately 1455-1485, each opposing noble family proudly represented a rose for their family crest, one white rose and one red rose.
This generational struggle later resulted in the consolidated creation of the famous family crest of Henry VIII Tudor (1491-1547). Two opposing roses combined into one rose to symbolize unity and prosperity. During the Renaissance period, the 15th and 16th centuries, garlands and floral head crowns became a popular fashion and décor for local pageants and feasts. During this time, flowers were utilized less for medicinal purposes and more for political and religious symbolism.
4.) 17th and 18th Century Flower History
By the time the 17th century rolled around, flowers became increasingly mainstream for all ceremonial events. Because of worldwide exploration, colonization, and trade, new exotic flowers were being introduced throughout Europe. Horticulture issued in a new era of plant and floral enthusiasts. Artistry and florals have always had a synonymous creative dynamic, so it is no surprise how innovative the cultivation of floral arrangements was steadfast with the study of painted canvases of floral arrangements.
For instance, painted canvases featured more realistic and three-dimensional flowers within the Baroque Period (1600-1800). The focal point consisted of twisted stems with exposed flower buds and reversed leaves. By the 18th century, during the Georgian period, the popularity of flowers transcended from artistic paintings displayed on sculptures, canvases, and vases, to fashion statements. The English and Rococo bouquets were notably sourced from paintings to the latest fashion, especially within the French court of Louis XIV’s Versailles Palace. For the first time, flowers were featured on clothing, not in relation to religion, politics, or love, but simply for the art of fashion.
(Jan Davidsz de Heem, Flemish Baroque Painting. 1645)
5.) 19th and 20th Century Flower History
With the turn of the 19th century, tried and authentic garden traditions were significantly improved due to advancements in horticulture and botany. The industrial revolution made it possible to enhance the floral industry. From ceramic and glass vases to the invention of artificial flowers, the cultivation and manufacturing of economically priced florals were mainstreamed on a global scale. The Victorian period brought brilliant hues and contrasts in floral colors and characteristics.
By the 1930s, the rise of the Garden Club movement was in full effect. This movement ushered in growing flower garden guides and rules for floral arrangements. For instance, within the flower industry in Japan, there were three popularized design rules -- the mass, the line, and the combination of string and group. Throughout the floral industry, over the last twentieth century, industry rules and guidelines were emphasized and placed on design shapes such as crescent, curvature, and contrasting harmonies.
Today, the flower market is not just for celebratory or religious purposes, but now for artistic exhibitions, often interpreted as abstract ideas, emotions, and natural environments; thus ushering in a new generation of floristry within pop culture! - OXO
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Sources For This Article
Author - Naia Geni | Floral Designer | Senior Editor | @naiageni
History | sourced in 2020 | History.com
Flowers have always been a part of our heritage and will continue to influence our modern culture for centuries to come. Floral history is just as rich and colorful as the variety of flower petals. Check out the top three flowers that have made history!
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