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Chrysanthemum

One of the "Four flowers of the Season" as a symbol of the autumn, the ninth month and symbol of joviality, first mentioned in the Book of Rites written in the Zhou dynasty. Sometime during the fourth century BC, a Chinese poet named Tao Yuan Ming refused a high government post and returned to his chrysanthemum garden. He said, rather than work for the government, he preferred to pick chrysanthemums, entertain his friends, and get drunk. Thus, the flower has come to symbolize easy life after retirement as reflected by the Song dynasty Scholar Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073) who regarded it as "the flower of scholarship and loneliness".

Chrysanthemum is also a well-known herb used to prolong life. The petals and leaves are used to make wine and medicine. The early morning dew, collected from the flowers, was thought to help with longevity.

The Chinese chrysanthemum with tight, incurved petals was brought to Japan by Zen Buddhist monks during the 5th century AD. The Japanese gardeners over time developed their own distinctive plant with looser petals and a shaggier look. When the chrysanthemum plants reached Europe, about the 17th century, the Europeans cross bred the Chinese and the Japanese types to arrive at something in-between. The western botanists gave it the name "golden flower" after the Greek "Chrysos" meaning "gold" and "anthos" meaning "flower". There are today recognized over 700 varieties of chrysanthemums.

The Japanese people designated a stylized version of the flower, in gold, with 16 petals as an Imperial Emblem in 797. The throne of the Japanese 'Midado' is also known as the "Chrysanthemum Throne".

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