Reviving the Victorian Language of Flowers: How Floriography Still Captivates Hearts

Reviving the Victorian Language of Flowers: How Floriography Still Captivates Hearts

The flower language originated from two European women during the early 17th century. Many believe that Victorians were the ones who started the trend, but this isn’t the case. The two ladies Mary Wortley Montagu, and Aubry De Mottraye travelled through in the Ottoman Empire. They brought back their coded flowers symbolic language.

Origins

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“Floriography” (or the flower language) was a major Victorian time craze, which consisted of the sending of messages encoded with flowers. Even though it was fading in the late nineteenth century, flower symbolism is important today. Whitney Lynn, a contemporary artist, designed an artwork for San Diego International Airport a project using flowers that had specific significance.

The trend of floriography originated in Ottoman Turkey, and was introduced to Europe through Lady Mary Wortley Montague and Seigneur Aubry de Mottraye. Following its rise to fame, a variety of books on floriography were produced. They contained information about plants as well as novelty items such as calendars, lists of flowers and symbols. The significance of these flowers was derived from legends or mythology and folklore (the relationship of the daffodil with egotism for instance), but others are directly derived from flowers. It is interesting to note that the authors of the works frequently referenced an Eastern tradition called Selam in their dictionary of flowers.

Victorian Era

Within Victorian society, floralography or floral language was utilized as a form of subtle communication. The system used to code botanical symbols could convey affection, desire or disdain. It allowed people of a period which was controlled by strict social conventions to communicate their sentiments with a manner that was acceptable to society.

The 19th century saw the first books about flower symbols and the language were released. However, the subtleties of this flower language can differ based upon the flowers, how it was presented and even the hand that delivered it. This nuanced expression of emotion provided plenty of space for interpretation and creativity. The lexicon of flowers grew to include more than 1,400 different flowers, herbs, as well as trees. While the flower vocabulary varied from one country to the next it was often the same.

The evolution of symbolism

Flowers have always been the best way to show emotion, sentiment, and reverence. While the landscape changes and flowers become more widely cultivated new meanings emerge or discarded, and new meanings develop.

The popularity of the flower language grew throughout the 19th century in England and North America. Authors wrote intuitive guides and dictionaries which connected the meaning of a flower with that symbolism with the flower. These dictionaries were often lavishly illustrated and adorned with emotional dedications.

Some of these mythological symbols were drawn from mythology, religion and folklore. As an example, daffodils are believed to symbolize egoism. inspired by the story of Narcissus who was in love with himself and his reflection in the water. Many were inspired by the nature of the plant or by their characteristics. Mimosas, for example, bring feelings of purity because they’re sensitive and are closed at night.

Cultural Influences

The Victorian Era saw the emergence of the flower language as a discreet form of communication. It suited a culture where the use of words to express feelings was frowned upon and etiquette was an important part of the social environment.

The art of floristry was popular among the upper class and women’s magazines such as Godey’s Ladies’ Book often ran stories about it. The game was played in salons where blindfolded people took a bouquet of flowers out of a vase to discover their feelings luck, fortune or destiny.

There were dictionaries of flowers that assigned each bloom their specific definition. They had a wide range of meanings and included, for example, the hyacinth was believed to represent beauty but also love and forgiveness. Their meanings were drawn from a wide array of sources that included Shakespearean literary and classical sources.

Modern

Flower symbols are still in use until today. Artists, designers, editor marketing, florists as well as poets are all using the concept. The term “florography” is frequently used to describe it.

In the Victorian time, floral design reached its height. Hundreds of flower, herb and plant-related books were published. They included descriptions of the flowers, herbs and other plants along with symbols. A few were based on legends or folklore. Daffodils’ association with egotism, for example was derived from the legend of Narcissus and his obsession with his own reflection.

Floral symbols convey a wide spectrum of emotions and messages. Colors can also be used for conveying different emotions. Like, for instance, a passionate red flower symbolizes feelings of love and affection, while an elegant white rose symbolizes purity and innocence.

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