Most people give each other flowers in significant occasions. It may be an anniversary or a death, flowers can serve so many symbolic purposes. What most people don’t realise is that each of the most popularly cultivated flowers has a deep history from which its contemporary meaning derives. I want this to be the focus of my next documentary.
For this one, I’m thinking of tracing the history of of the tulip, from tulip bulbs to mature plant. I’m going to use the growth of the flower from its budding stages to its flowering and maturity as a metaphor.
I was mistaken by thinking that the tulip was a western European plant. I guess they seemed hardy to me and they seem popular in England and Australia so I thought they derived from the anglophone speaking world. However, they actually originated in the Levant, particularly Turkey where they were harvested many thousands of years ago. You can see tulips in ancient Turkish art and motifs, it’s really fascinated. I’m already getting ideas for my next short documentary on the hyacinth. Bulbs slowly sprouting and turning into flowers. I think it could even be a series.
Today, tulips still represent perfect love. I guess that’s why they’re so popular on Valentines Day. Is there such a thing as perfect love? Who knows. One things for sure, there is a perfect tulip.
One of the more interesting things I learnt during my research on the tulip is that there are some discrepancies between the symbolism of the colours nowadays, compared to back them. For instance, yellow today is symbolic of friendship and cheerfulness, and all-purpose amiable colour. But back then it represented love, the kind of love that makes you feel helpless, wild and jealous. However, some people send yellow tulips to someone they love when they know that the other person doesn’t reciprocate those feelings. So that’s something to keep in mind if you ever experienced unrequited love.