Perhaps the most iconic flower across the world, the rose has captured our imagination through the ages, be it through art or its symbolic value or just by virtue of its natural beauty. A favoured ingredient in perfumery, the value of roses goes beyond its fragrance to its medicinal, ornamental and symbolic uses.
The symbol of the rose has changed through centures. For instance, in the pre-Christian era, the rose was symbolic of the goddess Venus and later became reminiscent of the Virgin Mary. The symbol eventually led to the creation of the rosary prayer.
For the ancient world, the rose was also a symbol of silence. It is said that Eros presented the rose to the god of silence and the term ‘sub rosa’ that means under the rose stands for silence.
In Islam & Sufism, the rose is often used as a literary device to mark loveliness as well as in architecture and landscaping where the rose is the central motif in well-thought-out geometric gardens. Persian legend says that as Mohammed was taken to Heaven, his sweat fell to earth and became the first rose.
The importance of the rose continued till later ages where it became the national flower of England, inspired by the War of the Roses where the House of Lancaster were represented by a red rose and the House of York was represented by a white rose. Across the pond, Henry VIII’s recipe for a rose perfume is still recorded at Oxford, ‘Take six spoonful of rose oil, the same of rose water, and a quarter of an ounce of sugar. Mix well together and two grains of musk and one ounce of ambergris, then boil slowly for six hours and then strain”.
For our Madurai Talkies, we have used roses from Turkey that have a certain flair associated with them. The rose, or gül as it is called in Turkish, has been blossoming in the country for generations.
Notes : The Magical & Ritual Use of Perfumes by Richard Alan Miller & Iona Miller