Peony is a species of Asian origin, which for centuries has gained great importance both in the East and in the West. The peony meaning of ancient origins and different depending on the geographical location taken into account is the only genus of the family of Peoniaceae and includes both perennial herbaceous species and deciduous shrubs.
The name peony comes from the Greek paionia and literally means “healing”. In fact, the roots of the plant have medicinal properties.
In the East it has been estimated for thousands of years as a bearer of good fortune and a happy marriage. In ancient China it was considered the “queen of all flowers” and it was so estimated that the best and most expensive varieties were included in the dowry.
For Europeans, instead, it is defined as “pink without thorns”. It is a symbol of romantic love stories and is therefore often used in wedding arrangements. The peony also celebrates the 12th wedding anniversary.
Peony and the East
Peony is a traditional symbol of oriental floral art and already appears in the 17th century in Chinese art to represent the vital force on tapestries, paintings, porcelain dishes or embroidered on traditional kimonos.
In contemporary times it is often combined with reproductions of birds and bamboo.
According to oriental symbolism, the white peony flower represents the virginal purity of girls, while the red flower is more figurative than erotic femininity.
But peony is not considered a symbol of femininity in its own right. In Tao it is considered a whole with the masculine, it is the meeting of the two polarities, it is the passive, graceful and tender part that blends harmoniously with the active and masculine one.
For this reason, according to the traditional Chinese meaning of the complementarity of opposites, peony positively influences the harmonious living together of man and woman.
This is why, if a happy marriage is to be desired, a painting or vase of Chinese peonies should be placed in the master bedroom. And if you really want to be fussy, in the southwest corner.
For an elderly couple, however, it is not recommended to keep in the bedroom the image of a blooming peony, because it could give rise to a desire for a younger woman.
If, on the other hand, you want to improve your love affair and romanticism, the image of a pair of pink peonies is suitable.
In the language of flowers, in addition to the themes of love, peony comes close to the sense of shame, modesty and shyness.
This is because an ancient Chinese legend tells that malicious nymphs were hiding in the petals of these flowers.
Peony and the West
In the West, in the language of flowers, peony is a symbol of modesty and shyness, in contrast to its showy shape, as if to represent that often appearance deceives.
The pink peony is also a symbol of youth and a newborn love.
It is, together with the rose, the flower of lovers par excellence and is the most suitable bouquet for a romantic bride.
A peony is given to someone to thank them for their calm and serenity.
Already in ancient times there are traces of the cultivation of peony and their role as bearers of messages of love.
Ancient myths and medieval texts refer to the beautiful flowers with curled petals as a symbol of love and elegance.
However, mass cultivation only began in the West in the 18th century and, if its use had been relatively shelved during the 9th century, it has regained importance today as a flower for weddings, because of the romantic significance that characterizes it.
Peony in Greek Mythology
There are several Greek myths referring to the birth of the flower of the peony, which testifies that it was evidently already widespread in Europe in ancient times.
- In the first, with some variations, Paeon, or Peon, a talented pupil of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, arouses the envy of his teacher, who tries to kill him. Then Zeus, to save him, transformed him into the plant of peony.
- In an episode of the Iliad Peone, doctor of the gods and student of Asclepius, cures Hades, wounded by Hercules.
- In a further version, Peone has Leto drink the juice of peony to help her to give birth to the twins Apollo and Artemis, sons of Zeus.
- With time Peone became confused with the name of Asclepius and later became an epithet of Apollo for his quality as a healer and, therefore, propitiated as a god of healing. Moreover, the Greeks believed that Apollo often disguised himself as Peon and sang songs of praise (called in fact peana) to himself.
- The last legend sees Apollo disrespectful because his sister Artemis, exceptional hunter and very skilled with the bow, fell in love with Orion, son of Neptune, god of the sea. Then Apollo challenged Artemis to try to hit Orion who was walking on the water on the horizon. But when her body reached the shore, Diana realized that she had killed her beloved with a single shot. So, from her tears of pain, beautiful peonies were born and Orion was taken to heaven among the stars in memory of his love.
The Meaning Of Peonies According To Colors
Peony, like all flowers, takes on different meanings according to its colors.
- White peony represents feminine purity and whiteness and is, therefore, associated with marriage and is widely used in the composition of the bride’s bouquet.
- Pink peony symbolizes modesty and shyness.
- The bright pink peony is a symbol of nobility of spirit.
- The red peony is the emblem of sexuality. In fact, it is seen as the representation of the female genitals, which opens when the dew, or sperm, falls.
Peony in Tattoos
Peony flowers are among the most represented in the art of tattooing, thanks to their high symbolic value. Peony allows, in fact, to harmoniously dissolve symbols of strength and courage with a graphic element that refers, instead, to elegance and purity.
The use of peony in tattoos certainly comes from Japan. In ancient times these flowers could only be picked by the emperor and for this reason they represent male power, but also serenity and peace.
In the American West, the pioneers who came to America got themselves tattooed with huge double-flowered peonies to remember the beauty of their homeland.
In contemporary body art, the peony motif is, graphically, widely used.
In fact, in addition to their highly symbolic value, with peony petals it is possible to create infinite designs combining the different shades of the flower, with these large petals a little ‘curled at the edges, with other natural elements.
It is a favorite motif for both men and women.
In men it always recalls motifs of strength and prosperity and, following the oriental meaning, it often appears associated with other symbols such as the dragon or the lion, to accentuate its strength and power.
In women it takes on a more positive meaning. Peony is considered a powerful good luck charm and bodes well for the happiness of a marriage and the prosperity of the family. It also symbolizes peace, nobility of mind and sincere love.
Because of its lush appearance during flowering, peony is associated, in Chinese culture in particular, with young women who in their youth are characterized by an explosion of vitality and prosperous beauty.
Tattoos of peonies of different colors take on different meanings. The white peony symbolizes young age, beauty and wit.
The red peony indicates erotic love and is a good omen for a future motherhood. Finally, the pink peony represents serenity, positive energy and inner peace.
Last Curiosities About Peonies
If you are of the sign of Pisces and you were born, to be exact, in the second decade, between 1 and 10 March, the peony is your flower and protects you against the bad deeds of the envious. But, for it to work, you must always have a piece on you: carry a piece of root, a few seeds, a dried leaf in your pocket or, if you feel very naive, put a beautiful flower in your buttonhole.
If you dream of peony it means that you are deeply in love or that a declaration of love is coming for you.