And now, flowers!

Corresponding to the length of the papyrus stalk, gaily colored blossoms or petals, especially blue Nymphaeae, cornflowers, and red poppies, are grouped by stages around this trunk so that the bouquet as a whole looks as though it consisted of many members nested one inside another. One is strongly reminded of certain Egyptian faience necklaces of the Empire, the individual members of which consist of blossoms thrust into one another, of the same sort as are still much worn in Indian today, and among us, too, are prepared by children out of elder blossoms.

– Ludwig Keimer, “Egyptian Formal Bouquets”, The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 41.3 (1925)

One of the interesting things about doing research is the rabbitholes that one goes down. I started from the book on temple ritual that I’ve been quoting on and off, which has a mention of the Ritual of the Royal Ancestors having variations for particular holidays. Which included a mention of something about bouquet presentation for the sixth-day festival, so I tried to chase that down, and my attempt to chase down the papyrus the author there was quoting came up with something that does not appear to actually contain the information I want, but which is too long and dry to actually plow through all at once. So I went looking for information about ancient bouquets, and came across this old analysis of their structure.

Which is really a long way of saying, “Man, getting anything done is hard. There are so many ideas to chase around….”

But anyway, according to this paper, a typical ancient Egyptian bouquet started with a sheaf of papyrus or other reed stems bound together (which reminds me of some of the djed pillar representations) with symmetrical arrangements of flowers using that as a base. Often flared at one end, though some of them were basically columns of stuff that went on and on and on. In case anyone wants to shoot for floral authenticity here.

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4 thoughts on “And now, flowers!

  1. veggiewolf says:

    This is fascinating to me on two levels. First, the carved flowers I have on my akhu shrine are very columnar in shape, as wood tends to be. Second, every rabbit hole I see you go down opens the possibility of even more rabbit holes…and that is very exciting.

    I wonder how difficult it is to find carved reeds?

    • kiya_nicoll says:

      That’s an interesting question.

      And yes. SO MANY RABBITHOLES. SO MANY. So many weird little obscure topics where I want to chase down some data to fill something out in my project du jour….

  2. ian288 says:

    This is really interesting! :) Rabbit holes are super fun; it’s funny how really small aspects of research can become so fascinating to look into.

    • kiya_nicoll says:

      I thought this one was sort of fun as much for the “How did I get there?” part of the process as the actual information.

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