The Peonie: Queen of Islamic Floral Art

"During the night the Peonie spends medicine and healing, during the day the beautiful “Rose with no thorns” is protected by a jealous bird."

The Peonie (Paeonia officinalis) is known in phytology lore as “Fuga Demonica” – a repellent against bad energies and demons. It is a medical rose that came back to medieval Europe via the Islamic world from China (who imported it - via Arab, Persian and Syrian traders - originally from ancient Greece). The Peonie is a very stately flowering bush with large, lush dark pink, purple and rose tinted blooms. She is a wonderful floral gift for women.

The Peonie in European medieval art and folklore – inspired by Islamic gardening arts and intriguing mystical stories – also speaks about the burning desire for God. Yet other tales are more ambigous. During the night the Peonie spends medicine and healing, during the day the beautiful “Rose with no thorns” is protected by a jealous bird. The night healing aspect relates to the Peonies mystical relationship with the moon. The jealous bird relates perhaps to the Greek god of war Ares who was once healed with the aid of a Peonie.

Peonies re-appear first in the Islamic world during the 8th century. They are used in traditional Chinsese healing to treat cramps, allergies and infections. They were also a popular motive on Chinese art in the form of chinoiserie (China) and became a very popular motif in the Islamic world, in the medical healing arts and it's other branches: Decorative arts, story telling and gardening. Their healing abilities are expressed also in their unusual longivity: Some Peonies reach an age of 300 years.

Peonie & her Star

For over a millenium, plant motifs in the form of vines, leaves, flowers, fruits, and trees were most frequently used in the art of the Islamic world. Art was merged and expressed in the many facets of the healing arts as a supreme, divine form of artistry. Architecture, gardening, medicine, decorative arts, all were destined to merge into the "fine art of Islamic art", that is to enlighten and heal the mind and spirit.

Traditionally, living creatures and humans are very rarely depicted in Islamic art. The key metaphysical justification is that Islamic art rather depicts the inner reality of phenomena with special focus on the subtle realms, illumination and healing.

The inner, psychic realities of every plant and flower are hidden - it takes place in the multiverse of atoms and molecular biology. But they are also a quinessential tale of outer beauty that arises from the hidden worlds, expressed in their scents, textures, colors and forms that struggle - with the aid of light - to emerge from invisibility and darkness.




Discover Islamic gardens. Their culture, history and designs. Includes DIY Tutorials.


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