The Tulip

Like many other goodies and beautiful things, the tulip 'comes' from Persia, where it was first appreciated and cultivated. In Romanian, we keep the original name: lalea, as in persian lale (laleh). Other nations, far from Balkans, call it 'tulip' from the word "turban" – "tulpan". In romanian we still use the word 'tulipan' for a certain head-cover for women.
The tulip was adopted as symbol by the dynasty established by Osman (the one who started the war against Byzantium and expansion of the ottomans). In old romanian, the turkish invadors were called "osmanlii".
The tulip became a sacred symbol not only because the shape resambles the palms held together in praying, but also because of the spelling, which was alike the word Allah.
Together with the carnation (aristocratic flower), the tulip is the official flower of the Ottoman Empire and it was designed with care and grace, caligrafically almost, in wonderful ceramic patterns.
During 16th century, Hungary and Transylvania were conquered by the Ottomans, while west of Hungary went under Austrian rule.
Surprizingly, the ethnic hungarian and german living in Transylvania, pick the flower of their muslim enemy to be a symbol of their own rezistance; symbol of national spirit; expression of their desire to be free from Hapsburgic domination. The tulip is now the flower of those who were persecuted by the catholic regim (protestants, unitarians) – but not orthodox!
Beautiful tulips were used everywhere: on leather coats, on ceramic products and textiles.
Therefore, it's Transylvania the first place where the tulip, in an abstract form, was woven onto oriental carpets; the oldest examples date from 17-18 centuries, found in protestant churches.
The Ottomans liked the idea, of course, and brought it back home, in Turkey, where this exact model became typical for the famous Bergama carpets, with their specific central medallions.
(see the Bergama textile museum).
In the meantime, orthodox romanians are imune to tulips and they continue to design their carpets according to the local flora and their ancient traditions. Motifs like: lilly-of-the-valley, mallow, wheat are most loved in south-west of Romania; while motifs like: wheat, vine, basil flower – are most loved in north-east of Romania.

A cui e laleaua?

O discutie avuta aseara pe pagina La Blouse Roumaine m-a determinat sa scriu aceasta poveste.
S-a afirmat ca "n-ar trebui sa amestecam provenienta" si ca "lalelele sunt tipic sasesti, apar aproape pe orice". Foarte de acord, dar hai sa incepem cu inceputul:
Ca multe alte lucruri gustoase sau frumoase, laleaua 'vine' dinspre Persia, unde a fost pentru prima data cultivata in mod organizat. In romana, patram numele ei, ca in persana = lale (laleh).
A fost preluata ca simbol de dinastia fondata de Osman, cel ce a adunat armata si a inceput lupta si expansiunea 'osmanliilor' impotriva Imperiului Bizantin.
A devenit floare sfanta pentru ca, pentru musulmani, cuvantul se scrie la fel ca Alah.
Alaturi de garoafa (floare mai aristocrata), laleaua devine floarea Imperiului Otoman, reprezentata caligrafic, in special pe ceramica.
In sec. 16, Ungaria si Transilvania ajung sub dominatie otomana – vestul Ungariei trecand sub stapanire Austriaca.
In mod ciudat, maghiarii si sasii aleg floarea dusmanului lor, de ca simbol al rezistentei spiritului national si a dorintei de a se elibera de sub dominatie Hapsburgica. Laleaua devine floarea celor ce au avut de suferit sub regim catolic (protestanti, unitarianisti).
In Transilvania, surpriza, apare pentru prima data laleaua reprezentata pe covoarele orientale, in sec. 17 – 18, (covoare folosite in biserici protestante). Turcii se bucura, preiau modelul de covor (cu lalele stilizate in medalionul central) si stilul respectiv devine caracteristic pentru Bergama, vestit centru de productie de covoare culte.
Intre timp, cu turcii in coasta, romanii isi vad de treaba si nu dau mare importanta lalelei. Pe covoare ei reprezinta flora spontana si plantele sacre; oltencele tes nalbe, lacramioare si spice; moldovencele tes spice, vita de vie si flori de busuioc.
Laleaua abunda in arta populara maghiara si saseasca, pe toate suporturile posibile, de la cojoace, panza, pana la cermica si cahle. Greu de imaginat cum aratau toate aceste obiecte inainte de lalea.


  1. Thank you for this information Ioana, very interesting!

    1. Thank you, I am glad you liked it! from now on I will write in English as well (I remember your previous comment) :)

  2. Buna,
    sunt Laura si vreau sa-ti multumesc pentru toate informatiile pe care le-am descoperit pe acest blog imi sunt de folos


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