While the tulip is more often associated with Holland in our modern society, it actually originates from Turkey and Persia many centuries ago. In fact it actually made a huge contribution to art and culture in ancient times, with Turks traditionally adorning their turbans with this flower. If you are thinking about a tulip tattoo, you probably don’t know that its name was actually derived by Europeans from the Turkish word for turban. While it is not completely clear how the first tulips arrived in Europe, it was believed that the ambassador of Ferdinand I came across the flowers on a visit to the Ottoman Empire in the mid sixteenth century. In a letter home, he wrote that he had never seen such an abundance of flowers blooming anywhere, which he found all the more astonishing as it was in the winter season, which was not considered to be a flower-friendly climate. However as the popularity of the tulip garnered momentum across Europe, it became a status of abundance, wealth and indulgence associated with the prosperous Ottoman Empire. This period is referred to as Lale Devri in Turkish which translates as Tulip Era so not surprisingly a tulip tattoo often has connotations of affluence and luxury.

The tulip also featured heavily in Turkish and Persian literature in days gone by but still receives special attention by poets and the likes in more modern times. The poems of Simin Behbahani in recent years pay homage to the tulip’s beauty but poets in Persian and Turkey were writing their tributes to this flower way back in the thirteenth century. One such work features an imaginary garden where a multitude of different colored tulips and fragrant rose grew side by side, which is described by the poet as creating the effect of paradise here on earth.

Over in Europe the tulip’s popularity continued to soar throughout the 1600’s to the extent that a manic fervor gripped the continent as Europeans sought these highly prized flowers en mass. The Netherlands in particular took this flower to their hearts and it is still widely associated with the Dutch today however these are specially cultivated now to grow a variety that is easily recognized, as Dutch Tulips. As a floral tattoo design, it is highly symbolic and its general meaning symbolizes perfect love although this can vary slightly according to the color of the tulip tattoo. Purple tulips are synonymous with royalty, while red ones signify true love and yellow has altered over the years from meaning impossible love to sunshine, joy and happiness. White tulips were used to sent to as a request of forgiveness although these were also used to symbolize a worth cause.

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