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Culture Insider: Admiring Flowers in Ancient Times

Pub Date:17-03-21 16:58 Source:chinadaily.com.cn

With the arrival of spring, flowers are blooming in the warm air. Cherry and peach blossoms, peonies, tulips and many other flowers are adding fragrance to the beautiful season.

People are taking spring outings to admire the flowers. While, our first thought when we see beautiful flowers is to take photos and post them on social media platforms, ancient people in China had their own ways of admiring flowers.

Various ways of admiring flowers

During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960), it is said that the official Han Xizai loved to burn incense near a flower vase because he liked the combination of the fragrance of flowers and incense. Using flowers in this way was popular during Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), people preferred to chant or sip wine while being surrounded by flowers. Music also goes well with flowers and refined scholars in Song Dynasty loved to play music to flowers. The musical instruments were thought to match different kinds of flowers. According to ancient book records, elegant flowers such as jasmine went well with the musical instrument heptachord.

China's only female emperor Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty was obsessed with flowers. The peony in ancient Luoyang was quite famed and each year when peonies flowered, she would hold celebrations and feasts.

Women in traditional Han clothing worship "flower god" during a ceremony at a scenic area in Fuzhou, Fujian province, March 12, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Flower petals as cushions

According to historical records, Tang Dynasty scholar Xu Shenxuan was very hospitable and each spring he would invite relatives and friends to the garden to see the flowers and feast. However, instead of seats, servants collect falling petals in the garden for guests to sit on as cushions.

When scholars went on a spring outing, how did they eat meals? According to ancient classicSix Chapters of a Floating Life, there was a scholar who wanted to go to a suburb to admire flowers, and he liked to eat hundun (dumplings served in soup) a lot, so he invited a stall keeper to come with him and his friends. That way, they could admire flowers and talk about poetry, and the stall keeper could prepare hot meals for them aside at the same time.

Admiring flowers is one of life's delights. Flowers have inspired so much beautiful poetry that has been passed down from ancient times, recalling some of the best poems can enhance the experience of admiring flowers.


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