Fragrances and Cultures Peony - Good Fortune, Compassion, Nobility

Peony - Good Fortune, Compassion, Nobility

06/11/11 00:00:46 (17 comments)

by: Naheed Shoukat Ali

White peonies blooming along the porch
send out light
while the rest of the yard grows dim.

Outrageous flowers as big as human
heads! They're staggered
by their own luxuriance: I had

to prop them up with stakes and twine.

The moist air intensifies their scent,
and the moon moves around the barn 

to find out what it's coming from.

In the darkening June evening
I draw a blossom near, and bending close
search it as a woman searches
a loved one's face.
                                      
Jane Kenyon


And, you might also like to read what my friend in Taiwan says about Peony.
"Peony is known as 牡丹  (mǔdān)  in Chinese and is an important symbol in Chinese culture, we say 'Peony is the king of flowers.'"


Regarded as a symbolic flower, peony symbolizes friendship, good luck and feminine beauty in China. It always represents elegance and poise. Peony was known to China for over 2000 years when it was first used for its medicinal value. The roots, bark, seeds and flowers were all believed to be of some medicinal use.



To see the best display of peonies, there isn't any better place to be at than the Louyang Peony Festival. Louyang is considered the peony capital. Throughout Chinese history, peonies in Luoyang are often said to be the finest in the country and are also ranked as "First under the heaven." In 1982, peony was defined as the city flower of Luoyang and at the same time, a decision was made to hold an annual peony fair festival in Luoyang which starts in the month of April.  If you are in Luoyang then Wangcheng Park is one the best places to enjoy the beauty of the peonies, during the Luoyang Peony Festival. Not only the Chinese peonies, but peonies from the other countries are also the attraction for the visitors at this festival.
 

Like me, you must also be very interested to know how peonies reached Luoyang and became so popular. Initially, peonies were grown in China mainly for medicinal uses. However, during the reign of the emperor Yang of Sui dynasty, they were grown for the first time as garden plants. Hence, a thought was given then to not only grow them as medicine but also as decorative plants.

By the time of T'ang Dynasty, peonies had became very popular in the imperial gardens and they were put under imperial protection. Lady luck had her deep eyes on these beautiful flowers when during Sung dynasty, they spread throughout China, and the Sung capital of Louyang  became a center for peonies.

After Luoyang, the city of HeZe is recognized as the other major peony center in China, and it also holds an International Peony Fair each year in April. Heze became a center for peony  culture during the Ch'ing dynasty. It was known as the city of Caozhou at that time.

Peonies have long been  a symbol of royalty and have inspired many artists and writers through the ages. They are often referred to in poetry and literature, and can also be seen as the main motifs of Chinese decorative arts.

After China, Japan received the honor of growing peonies on its land. When peonies reached Japan, Japanese horticulturists began to work with them and  simplified the flowers. They produced lighter, less complicated flower heads. 

They have a symbolic meaning of the peony that includes wealth, good fortune, honor, daring and masculine bravery. Like China, peony is a very popular theme in Japanese art. You might also like to read a haiku by Yosa Buson (1716 ~ 1783) from his collection.







Only after the peony


Had scattered and fallen


Did it stand there in its glory.

 

 


Talking of peonies in Europe, I would like to share the words spoken by my friends who come from different parts of Europe.

Finland: "Peony is a perennial plant and much valued in Finland also. In the past, European Monastery gardens planted Peony flowers for pharmaceutical and spice purposes."

Hungary: "Peony (Paeonia) – is native to Europe as well. In Hungarian: bazsarózsa /ˈbɒʒɒroːʒɒ/ bazsa + rose or pünkösdirózsa pentecost + rose. It blooms around Pentecost and people decorate churches with this flower. "

Germany: "Here peony is also called Pentecost + rose. In German it's Pfingstrose. It's a common flower here too."
 


PEONY-PEDIA:
Some facts about peony

There are two main types of peonies: herbaceous peonies, perennials that grow from tuberous roots, and tree peonies, which are deciduous shrubs.

In North America peonies have been grown for their ornamental, rather than medicinal value. Peony is the official state flower of Indiana.

The peony is symbolic of 12 years of marriage. It is thought to represent romance and prosperity and is a good omen for married couples.

According to Chinese folklore, if a peony wilts, fades or dries up, poverty or other problems are close by.

In the garden of the Twin Pagoda Monastery at Taiyuan Shanxi Province, there are 10 plants growing that are said to be 300 years old.

In Europe, the peony is also referred as 'the rose without thorns.'  And the cultivation of peonies in France has captured the flowers' fragrant essence into perfumes.

The Greek translation of peony is "praisegiving" and is also linked with ancient Greek  mythology.


In the end, I would love to read your comments and also it would be  great to read some more facts or anything interesting linked with peony from
you all, and also share your favourite fragrances with peony.
 

 


Author: Naheed Shoukat Ali  (naheed)
Fragrantica Writer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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smelling_gr8
smelling_gr8

I looove peony scents, one of my favourite ones is the pink YR pivoine. I also grow peonies in my garden and yes, they are rather slow growing, but once they bloom, they look so magnificient and smell of warm spring. My favourite peony variety is Sarah Bernardt - big pink fluffy heads with creamy white middle, the scent is a very refreshing floral scent, almost smells of pink roses.
My parents used to grow lot of burgundy and white peonies (pivonky) in their garden, in Slovakia, and would pick them for their flat to scent it.
Thank you for this fab article, it makes me want to go and coat myself in my peony perfume.

Jun
01
2014
Penny Urn'd
Penny Urn'd

Wonderful archived article for any peony lover. (Gucci's Envy Me is a favorite of mine, despite the off-putting name).

May
31
2014
izzie07
izzie07

Thanks for writing about peonies. My hubby won't let me have them anymore because they grow to slow :(

Jul
26
2012
mnmlizm
mnmlizm

I really must have picked a great day to deliver my girl peonies! I think I may wear Bond No. 9 Chinatown to top off this lovely article. Thanks for this timely article Naheed! Makes me feel as if the stars are aligned... :)

Jul
26
2012
siying.hong
siying.hong

Thank you, writer Naheed!
I fell in love with peony after falling in love deeply witt L'occitane's Pivoine Delicate.
The scent re-ignited my love for flowers. Somehow, in a positively twisted manner, the re-discovery of my feelings towards flowers moulded me into an even more feminine lady. My favourites are peonies and roses, what a complementery combination.

If flowers have gender, to me roses and peonies are the most feminine. Subtle yet having weight amongst all other flowers. So relaxing and surreal. Teleports me to some where sunny and breezy, with the flower frangrances filling my nostrils. And I gently shut my eyelids and tilt your chin up towards the sky. Alternatively, I can just lie on the bed of roses and enjoy that very moment in life. Like a dream. These are my interpretation of peonies, and roses. I would hunt down the scents of these flowers. Natural smelling ones. I just created hand-made peonies for my work station. I spray my fragrance on it, telling myself it is a real peony.

Jul
26
2012
Jinha Yoo
Jinha Yoo

Yes,, Peony is so majestic. It has something magical to attract people around them. I'm toatlly obssesed with the scent at all times.People usually say that the queen of the flower is muguet and princess of the flower is rose. I agree with their opinion to some extent but I'm more into Peony. I even like the sound from my mouth when I pronounce it.

Anyway, Thank you for your article. This is really useful to study about fragrance. What I really love about your article is Poem. How sweet it is!!!

Aug
16
2011
naheed
naheed

Thank you so much for such wonderful comments! The credit for the layout and beautiful pictures goes to Jeca :).

@mutmiu: You spotted on right! My friend is Hungarian but lives in Slovakia so written its name both in Hungarian and Slovak.

Jun
11
2011
mutmiu
mutmiu

Thanks for this interesting and thorough article, Naheed. I love the delicate scent of peonies, and I find very attractive their "fluffy" flowers, especially in white, or light pink.

The word peony comes from the name of an ancient Greek healing deity, Paian (or Paeon). It means simply the healer. He was the physician of the gods, so it isn't surprising that the ancient people attached medicinal properties to the flower. According to a myth, Zeus transformed Paian into a peony flower in order to save him from the anger of Asclepios, his jealous master. (Later the figure of Paian disappeared from the Greek pantheon, and his name became just an epithet of other well-known ancient Greek healing gods, Apollon and Asclepios.)

I'm Hungarian, and the name pünkösdirózsa means indeed the rose of Pentecost in Hungarian. The other name's prefix, bazsa came from South Slavic languages - bozur, bazur - in which it means peony. Then the word rózsa (rose) was added to it, thus formed the name bazsarózsa.

Jun
11
2011
Udaria
Udaria

Such a beautiful article, Naheed, thank you. Gorgeous photos ... summer time.

Jun
11
2011
Matin
Matin

I love peonies, it is great to find this article as beautiful and interesting.♥

Jun
11
2011
NebraskaLovesScent
NebraskaLovesScent

Nothing says summer like peonies! I haven't found a perfume yet that can fully duplicate their beautiful aroma, but Estee Lauder Pleasures makes skillful use of peony and is a good scent for summer. Very nice article, Naheed!

Jun
11
2011
Roma27
Roma27

Interesting to read the history of such an amazing flower such as Peony. Definitely one of my favourite flowers among many. What a lovely choice of pictures too. Thank you for sharing your info Naheed. Stella in Two Peony by Stella McCartney would have to be my favourite Peony fragrance.

Jun
11
2011
vetiver
vetiver

"The rose without thorns" that expression is really charming, it is a lovely flower that i would like to have in my garden . Some day :)
Very nice article Naheed! Thank you!

Jun
11
2011
Cherry_158
Cherry_158

The article is very instuctive! thanks a lot, Naheed! Peonies are dear to me, since these flowers are closely connected with my childhood. I remember them in our garden. To my mind this flower posesses a charming and strong scent especially after rain. I love them to be used in pefumes. It is a unique scent that can be worn causally everyday or for romantic nights out. By the way Jeca is absolutely right about its usage as a sedattive extract in Russia. (I'm from this country)

Jun
11
2011
LydiaLiu
LydiaLiu

This article is wonderful!

I'm a Chinese, it is quite true that Peony 牡丹 is an important symbol in Chinese culture, we say "Peony is the king of flowers". Though the national flower of China still absent (that is because too many candidates, there is a variety of answers), a vast majority of people will vote for Peony I believe.

According to legend, in Tang dynasty, the emperor's favorite beauty Yuhuan Yang (she is one of the four most beautiful women of ancient China) often put a lot of peony petals in her big bathing pool, they believed that it can make the skin both young and energetic, of course fragrant as well.

I'm a flower lover myself, and I really have great preference to Peony, especially the large pink ones, they are so gorgeous and luxury!

Really beautiful text and pictures, thank you Naheed!

Jun
11
2011
VeroniqueLeon
VeroniqueLeon

Great article Naheed,
Thanks!!

I love Peonies and I also grow them in my garden too.Their scent is just amazing and intense and they look so majestic.
L'occitane en Provence has launched two very pretty Peony dominant fragrances this year Pivoine Flora eau de toilette and Pivoine Flora eau de parfum.Also Yves Rocher's Pur Desir de Pivoine pruducts are quite nice.

Jun
11
2011
jeca
jeca

Oh, Naheed, you touched my heart with your article about peonies, this is my favorite flower! My grandma and grandpa had them in their small garden, they were so fragrant and bright, I've believed they were the biggest and the best in the world.

I saw wild peonies in Krym (Ukraine), they were red, fragrant, beautiful, not as big as garden flowers.

Peony was very popular in fragrances in 2006-2008, I remember a flanker by Dior Addict with peony, peony in the Garden of Stars by Thierry Mugler.

In Russia peony is used as a sedative.

Jun
11
2011

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