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FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS

The earliest known flower arranging dates back to ancient Egypt. Egyptians were decorating with flowers as early as 2,500 BCE. They regularly placed cut flowers in vases. Highly stylized arrangements were used during burials, for processions, and simply as table decorations. Illustrations of arranged flowers have been found on Egyptian carved stone reliefs and painted wall decorations.

Flowers were selected according to symbolic meaning, with emphasis on religious significance. The lotus flower or water lily, for example, was considered sacred to Isis and was often included in arrangements. Many other flowers have been found in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians. Garlands of flowers were worn by loved ones and left at the tombs. These included blue scilla, poppy-flowered nemone, Iris sibirica, delphinium, narcissus, palm tree, papyrus and rose.

The Greeks and the Romans also used flowers. They did not often use vases, focusing instead on garlands and wreaths. They also tossed petals onto floors and beds. Like the Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans had preferences for the flowers and foliage they used.

The most popular foliage used by the Greeks and the Romans were acorns, oak leaves, laurel, ivy, bay and parsley. Laurel wreaths were presented to winners of athletic competitions in the ancient Olympics. These wreaths were also awarded to individuals winning competition in poetic meets. In Rome they symbolized a military victory and crowned the successful commander in honor of his triumph.

The preferred flowers include roses, hyacinths, honeysuckle, violets, and lilies. Other flowers such as tulips, larkspur, and marigolds were also selected for their shape, color, and form.

The Chinese were making flower arrangements as far back as 207 BCE to 220 CE, in the Han era of ancient China. Flowers were an integral component of religious teaching and medicine.

Practitioners of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism placed cut flowers on their altars. This practice dates back to 618-906 CE. They created paintings, carvings, and embroidered items with depictions of flowers. The paintings can be found on vases, plates, scrolls, and silk. The flower carvings were done on wood, bronze, jade and ivory.

Buddhist teachings forbade the taking of a life, so religious practitioners worked sparingly when taking cuttings from plants. Flowers and leaves that were used to make basket arrangements were selected based on their symbolic meaning. For example, the bamboo, the peach tree, and the pear tree symbolized longevity. The tiger lily, the pomegranate, and the orchid symbolized fertility. The most honored of all flowers was the peony. Considered the “king of flowers”, it symbolized wealth, good fortune, and high status.

During the period 500CE to 1453CE, the Byzantine Empire made its contribution to floral arrangements. Arrangements typically included a cone shape design. The cone-shaped foliage was placed in chalices and urns, which were further decorated with brightly colored flowers and fruit. Flowers commonly included in these arrangements were daisies, lilies, cypress, carnations, and pine. Ribbons were also commonly used.

Flower arranging arrived in Europe around 1000 CE. This was particularly true in churches and monasteries where flowers and plants were used for food as well as for decoration. As crusaders came back from the Middle East, they brought new and interesting plants with them. As a result, European countries were able to begin experimenting with plants that were previously unknown to them.

The Italian Renaissance helped give flower arranging extra spark in Europe. It was during this time period that a wide variety of arrangement styles began to develop. By the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, flower arrangements were commonplace and a wide variety of materials were used to make containers. These included marble, heavy Venetian glass, and bronze.

Flower arrangements made during this time introduced a whole new element - using tropical fruits. These arrangements also focused on creating contrast with color. Some of the popular flowers included the Lilium Candidum ( or Madonna lilu, used to symbolize fertility and chastity), narcissus, pinks, iris, jasmine, pansies, French marigolds, cornflowers, and rosemary.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
             
 
             
 
             
 
 
 
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