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Flowers in Oriental Design

Flowers, foliage and floral elements have been used in Chinese design for centuries and the familiar cherry blossoms and swirling floral borders are instantly recognisable. 

Flowers have always had an honored position in their culture. They play a major role in the regular day to day life. But it is art and poetry, where flowers have been present the most in Chinese culture. The Chinese people believe that flowers convey positive messages and thus they are recurrent in Chinese literature, food, beverages, and decorations.

Here are a few of themain flowers used in paintings and decoration on ceramics.

Chrysanthemums are associated with the famous Chinese poet Tao Yuanming. In one of his works, he referred Chrysanthemums as a symbol of humility. He wrote: “While picking up chrysanthemums beneath the eastern fence, my gaze was leisurely upon the southern mountains”. This is one of the most famous Chinese poems that reflects a peaceful and nourishing life which is every common man’s dream. In Chinese culture, chrysanthemum also symbolises longevity. As per the ancient Chinese Medicinal Theory, chrysanthemum tea is great medicine for curing internal heat and fever. People in China thus never forget to drink this special tea after having too spicy and cheesy or baked food items. In China, people use dry Chrysanthemum petals to make their pillows and they are good for eyesight.

History says that the cultivation of Roses started in China at least 5000 years ago and then spread elsewhere in the world. Chinese Rose is a member of the genus Rosa which is native to Southwest China in Guizhou, Hubei, and Sichuan Provinces. The China Rose Flower buds and flowers are brewed into tea and soup and also used as a kitchen herb. People eat the thin fleshy part surrounding the seeds in its raw form or after cooking. The rose seeds are a good source of vitamin E and they are grounded to use in foods. Apart from food, in China, these flowers are in profuse use in the perfume and cosmetics industry.

It was the great Chinese poet Li Bai who compared his mistress Yang Yuhuan’s beauty to Peonies. He wrote: “Floating clouds remind me of her clothes, and peonies her face”. In most of the New Year images, the fairy children always hold peonies. The peonies bear people’s wishes for an auspicious and rich new year. Peonies bloom in the spring season and symbolise fame, prosperity, and wealth.