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Peony

Considered the queen of flowers, symbolizing spring and a harbinger of good luck. The Peony got its real fame during the Tang Dynasty when it was appreciated by the first female Empress in the history of China - Empress Wu. In the South it is considered the flower of love, affection and feminine beauty, riches and honor. Sometimes also used as a metaphor for family success and wealth.

Peonies are the most commonly encountered flower on Chinese porcelain, indeed in Chinese art in general. There are two cultivated types of peony commonly depicted, the tree peony Paeonia Suffruicosa (Mudan) and the herbaceous peony P.Lactiflora (Shaoyao). Both have rich exuberant flowers with thin silk like petals but the plants are rather different to each other. The tree peony is not in fact a tree but a deciduous shrub, sometimes rather large and sprawling, it has irregular woody stems. It shares a similar leaf and flower form to the herbaceous peony but they are not close in other ways.

The flowers are closely associated with royalty because they have been grown in imperial gardens since the Sui dynasty (581-618). The peony is one of the flowers of the four seasons and represents the Spring. It symbolizes wealth and honour in the sense of high rank, having an official position, or high social status.

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