The peony is one of the oldest plants cultivated by mankind and has been widely worshipped in Eastern Asia far from any comparison of its kind in Europe.
The rose without thorns in ancient times
The peony was known since ancient times. Already 2000 years ago it was mentioned in the Iliad as well as in old Chinese texts. Paeonia, the botanical generic name of the peony, derives from the Greek word “paionia”, which stands for the doctor of the gods Paian. In Greek mythology, he used this flower to heal Pluto, the god of the underworld, after he was wounded by Heracles.
In Roman mythology, Hippolytus is said to have been crushed by his fathers Poseidon horses. After his violent death, Artemis brought him back to life with a peony (paeony). When he came back to life he took the name Virbuis, which means twice man.
Poems and paintings glorify this flower which, according to the legend,zteß even defied the will of Empress Wu Zetian. It was the only flower that refused to bloom in winter. You can find the story here.
In China during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) the peony established itself as a symbol of wealth. Because of its great beauty, the “Queen of Flowers” served as an ornament for the women at court. Here it is considered a flower of happiness, which carries love, harmony and fertility in married life. Standing for spring and the near summer, it was the national flower of China for a long time.
Peony at the Noh Theater
The peony (Japanese botanical) was introduced into Japanese culture probably around the 8th century AD. Buddhist monks brought the first seeds of shrub peonies from China to Japan.
Initially considered a medicinal plant, the peony became increasingly popular. In the era of the “floating world”, ukiyo-e, it became a popular motif in painting and woodblock printmaking. Here it was often depicted with a lion (shishi) or butterfly.
In a Noh theater piece, the Karashishi, a lion serving a Buddhist deity, is described dancing along the flowering peonies and celebrating eternal peace.
Paonia as Japanese tattoo
In the Japanese tattoo art Horimono / Irezumi, this flower is also called botan / peony. It is suitable as a completely separate motif in conjunction with background (such as stones and clouds) for a complete bodysuit. You can not only combine your big project with a butterfly, peacock or shishi, your Japanese tattoo will also look great with a snake or botanical details in the kimono / fan of a geisha. Let your imagination run wild.
We are looking forward to your ideas. Are you unsure about your motif choice? We would be happy to advise you with a consultation appointment.
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Take care and stay healthy. Your Good Old Times Team.