Sunday, August 28, 2011

Floriography - the Secret Language of Flowers

Thanks to my readers for hanging in there with me, while I took a brief hiatus. Life has been a little topsy turvy lately, but I am aiming to get back to regular postings. It definitely makes me admire my fellow bloggers who post daily. You guys are amazing!

A few weeks ago I posted about secret fan gestures. Another way lovers would communicate with each other, during the Victorian era,  is through the Floriography, the coded language of flowers. Lovers would send flower arrangements to each other, including small ones called tussie mussies to communicate their feelings to each other, which was often difficult to do in a world where courtship was scrutinized by chaperoens and rigid social conventions made it difficult for people to be open about their feelings. Tussie Mussies, were small flower arrangements, usually wrapped in a doily, and tied together with a ribbon. They could be carried around or pinned to the chest.

Using flowers to convey meaning has been around in Europe since at least Medieval times. Even before this, certain plants and flowers were thought to have magical properties. Over time the folklore waned and magical tradition was reduced to symbolic meaning.  In the 1700s with more contact with the eastern world, Chinese and Turkish traditions of floriography began to capture western imagination. In 1718 Lady Mary Wortly Montagu, the wife of the English ambassador to Constantinople became particularly interested in the Turkish tradition and helped to spread the eastern flower traditions into British fashion. It wasn't until the 1800s though that this really took off, as Queen Victoria was particularly taken by the idea of a secret language conveyed through flowers. During her reign, hundreds of dictionaries were published to satisfy the public's appetite for this poetic way to communicate.

Below are some of the more common flowers given during the Victorian era and their meanings. The list is quite extensive, though there are much more thorough dictionaries out there. Most have positive meanings, but there are some insulting ones. So if someone gives you an arrangement of mock orange flowers, oleanders and nuts, they're telling you to watch out stupid, you're being deceived.

  • APPLE BLOSSOM -  Good Fortunee
  • ASPARAGUS FERN - Fascination
  • ASPHODEL - My Regrets Follow You to the Grave
  • ASTER - Symbol of Love, Daintiness, Talisman of Love
  • AZALEA - Take Care, Temperance, Fragile, Passion, Chinese Symbols of Womanhood 
  • BABY'S BREATH - Innocence, Pure of Heart
  • BACHELOR BUTTON - Single blessedness, Celibacy
  • BALM - Sympathy
  • BALSAM - Ardent Love
  • BEGONIA - Beware, A Fanciful Nature
  • BELLS OF IRELAND - Good luck
  • BLUEBELL/BELL FLOWER - Humility, Constancy, Gratitude
  • BROOM - Humility, Neatness
  • BUTTERCUP - Childishness, Riches
  • CACTUS - Endurance, My Heart Burns with Love
  • CALLA LILY - Magnificent Beauty
  • CAMELLIA - Admiration, Perfection, Good Luck Gift for a Man, Gratitude
  • CAMELLIA (PINK) - Longing
  • CAMELLIA (RED) - You're a flame in my heart
  • CAMELLIA (WHITE) - Adoration, Perfection, Loveliness
  • CARNATION (GENERAL) - Fascination, Devoted Love
  • CARNATION (PINK) - I'll never forget you, Women's Love
  • CARNATION (RED) - My heart aches for you
  • CARNATION (DEEP RED) - Alas! for my poor heart
  • CARNATION (PURPLE) - Capriciousness
  • CARNATION (STRIPED) - No, Refusal, Sorry I can't be with you, Wish I could be with you
  • CARNATION (WHITE) - Sweet & Lovely, Innocence, Pure Love, Woman's Good Luck Gift
  • CARNATION (YELLOW) - Disapointment, Rejection
  • CATTAIL - Peace, Prosperit
  • CEDAR - I live but for thee, Think of Me
  • CELANDINE - Future Joy
  • CHAMOMILE - Energy in Action
  • CHICKWEED - I Cling to Thee
  • CHICORY - Frugality
  • CHRISTMAS ROSE - Relieve My Anxiety
  • CHRYSANTHEMUM (GENERAL) - Abundance & Wealth,
  • CHRYSANTHEMUM (YELLOW) - Slighted Love
  • CINQUEFOIL - Beloved Child)
  • CLOVER (FOUR-LEAF) - Be Mine
  • CLOVER (WHITE) - Think of Me
  • CLOVER (RED) - Industry
  • COLUMBINE (PURPLE) - Resolved to Win
  • COLUMBINE (RED) - Anxious
  • CORNFLOWER - Delicacy, refinement,
  • COWSLIP - Rusticity, Winning Grace, Healing, Youth, Pensiveness
  • COXCOMB - Foppery, Unfading Love
  • CROCUS - Cheerfulness, Abuse not, Gladness
  • CYCLAMEN - Resignation and Good-Bye
  • DAFFODIL - Regard, Unrequited Love, Sunshine, Respect, The sun shines when I'm with you
  • DAFFODIL (YELLOW ) - Chivalry
  • DAHLIA - Dignity and Elegance, Forever Thine
  • DAISY - Innocence, Loyal Love, I'll Never tell, Purity, Beauty
  • DAISY OX-EYE - Patience
  • DAISY (RED) - Beauty Unknown to Possessor
  • DANDELION - Faithfulness, Happiness, Love's oracle
  • DAPHANE ODORA/WINTER DAPHANE - I Would Not Have You Otherwise
  • DEAD LEAVES - Sadness
  • DELPHINIUM - Big-Hearted, Fun
  • DILL - Lust
  • DOG ROSE - Pleasure and Pain
  • DOGWOOD (FLOWERING) - Am I Indifferent to You?
  • EVERLASTING - Never Ceasing Memory
  • FERN - Magic, Fascination, Confidence, Shelter
  • FERN (MAIDENHAIR) - Secret bond of love, Discretion
  • FERN (ROYAL) - Reverie
  • FIR - Time
  • FLAX - Domestic Symbol
  • FLOWERING REED - Confide in Heaven
  • FORGET ME NOT - True Love, Memories
  • FORSYTHIA - Anticipation
  • FOXTAIL GRASS - Sporting
  • FREESIA - Innocence, Trust
  • FUCHSIA (SCARLET) - Confiding Love, Taste
  • FURZE - Love for All Occasions
  • GARDENIA - You're lovely, Secret love, Purity, Refinement
  • GARLIC - Courage, Strength, Get well, Ward Off Evil & Illness
  • GERANIUM - True Friend, Stupidity, Folly
  • GERANIUM (APPLE) - Present Preference
  • GERANIUM (IVY) - Your Hand for Next Dance
  • GERANIUM (LEMON) - Unexpected Meeting
  • GERANIUM (NUTMEG) - I Expect a Meeting
  • GERANIUM (OAK-LEAVED) - True Friendship, Lady, Deign to Smile
  • GERANIUM (PENCILED) - Ingenuity
  • GERANIUM (ROSE) - Preference
  • GERANIUM (SCARLET) - Consolation, Melancholy
  • GERBERA - Innocence
  • GLADIOLI - Generosity, I'm sincere, Flower of the gladiators
  • GINGER - Strength
  • GOLDEN-ROD - Be cautious, Encouragement
  • GOOSEBERRY - Anticipation
  • GORSE - Endearing Affection
  • GRASS - Homosexual Love
  • HEATHER (LAVENDER) - Admiration, Solitude
  • HEATHER (WHITE) - Protection, Wishes will come true
  • HELIOTROPE - Devotion
  • HOLLY - Defense, Domestic Happiness, Am I forgotten
  • HOLLYHOCK - Fruitfulness
  • HOLLYHOCK (WHITE) - Female Ambition
  • HONEYSUCKLE - The Bond of Love
  • HUCKLEBERRY - Faith, Simple Pleasures
  • HYACINTH (GENERAL) - Games & Sports, Rashness, Flower dedicated to Apollo
  • HYACINTH (BLUE) - Consistency
  • HYACINTH (PURPLE) - Sorry, Please forgive me, Sorrow
  • HYACINTH (RED OR PINK) - Playful Joy
  • HYACINTH (WHITE) - Unobtrusive Loveliness, I'll pray for you
  • HYACINTH (YELLOW) - Jealousy
  • HYDRANGEA - Thank you for understanding, frigidity, heartlessness
  • IRIS - Faith, Wisdom, Promise in Love, Hope, Wisdom & Valor
  • IRIS (YELLOW) - Passion
  • IRIS (GERMAN) - Flame
  • IVY - Wedded Love, Fidelity, Friendship, Affection
  • JASMINE (INDIAN) - Attachment
  • JASMINE (SPANISH) - Sensuality
  • JASMINE (YELLOW) - Modesty, Grace, Elegance
  • JASMINE (WHITE) - Amiability
  • JONQUIL - Love Me, Affection Returned, Desire, Sympathy
  • LADY'S SLIPPER - Win me, Capricious Beauty
  • LARKSPUR - Levity, An Open Heart, Lightness
  • LAVENDER - Love, Devotion,
  • LEMON BLOSSOM - Fidelity in Love; I Promise to be True
  • LILAC (GENERAL) - Beauty, Pride
  • LILAC (PURPLE) - First emotions of love
  • LILAC (WHITE) - Youthful Innocence
  • LILY (GENERAL) - Majesty & Honor, Purity of Heart
  • LILY (ORANGE) - Hatred, Dislike
  • LILY (WHITE) - Virginity, Purity, Majesty, It's Heavenly to be with You, Youth
  • LILY (YELLOW) - I'm Walking On Air, False, Gay, Gratitude
  • LILY (CALLA) - Beauty
  • LILY (DAY) - Coquetry, Chinese Emblem For Mother
  • LILY (EUCHARIS) - Maiden Charms
  • LILY (TIGER) - Wealth, Pride, Prosperity
  • LILY OF THE VALLEY - Sweetness, Tears Of The Virgin Mary, Happiness, Humility
  • LIVERWORT - Confidence
  • LOVE-LIES-BLEEDING/AMARANTHUS - Hopeless, Not Heartless, Desertion
  • LOTUS - Estranged love, Forgetful of the Past
  • MAGNOLIA - Nobility, Perseverance, Nobility
  • MAGNOLIA (CHINESE) - Love of Nature
  • MALLOW - Delicate Beauty, Sweetness
  • MARIGOLD (COMMON) - Pretty Love, Sacred,Affection, Caress, Sorrow
  • MARJORAM - Joy, Happiness
  • MEADOW SAFFRON - My Best Days Are Gone
  • MILK VETCH - Your presence softens my pain
  • MIMOSA - Secret Love
  • MINT - Virtue
  • MISTLETOE - Kiss me, Affection, Difficulties, Sacred plant of India,
  • MONKSHOOD - Beware, Danger is near
  • MOUSE-EAR CHICKWEED - Simplicity
  • MORNING GLORY - Affection
  • MOSS - Maternal Love, Charity
  • MUGWORT/WORMWOOD - Tranquility, Happiness
  • MYRTLE - Love, Joy, Hebrew Emblem of marriage
  • NARCISSUS - Formality, Stay As Sweet As You Are
  • NASTURTIUM - Conquest, Victory In Battle
  • NUTS - Stupidity
  • OAK LEAVES - Bravery
  • OLEANDER - Caution
  • OLIVE BRANCH - Peace
  • ORANGE BLOSSOM - Innocence, Eternal Love, Marriage, Fruitfulness
  • ORANGE, MOCK - Deceit
  • ORCHID - Love, Beauty, Refinement, Chinese Symbol for Many Children, Thoughtfulness
  • PALM LEAVES - Victory & Success
  • PANSY - Merriment, Thoughts (You Occupy My Thoughts)
  • PARSLEY - Useful Knowledge
  • PASSION FLOWER - Faith, Religious Fervor
  • PEAR - Affection
  • PEACH BLOSSOM - I am your Captive
  • PEONY - Shame
  • PEPPERMINT - Cordiality
  • PERIWINKLE - Early Recollections, Pleasures of Memories, Sweet Memories
  • PETUNIA - Your Presence Soothes Me
  • PHLOX - Our souls are united, Unanimity
  • PINE - Hope, Pity
  • PINK- Pure Affection
  • PINK (MOUNTAIN) - You Are Aspiring
  • POPPY (GENERAL) - Eternal Sleep, Oblivion, Imagination
  • POPPY (RED) - Pleasure
  • POPPY (WHITE) - Consolation
  • POPPY (YELLOW ) - Wealth, Success
  • PRIMROSE - I Can't Live Without You, Woman
  • PRIMROSE (EVENING) - Inconstancy
  • PRIMROSE (RED) - Unpatronized Merit
  • PUSSY WILLOW - Motherhood
  • QUAKING GRASS - Agitation
  • REEDS - Music
  • RHUBARB - Advice
  • RHODODENDRON - Danger, Beware, I am Dangerous
  • ROSE (BRIDAL) - Happiness
  • ROSE (BURGANDY) - Unconscious Beauty
  • ROSE (CHRISTMAS)- Relieve my anxiety
  • ROSE (CORAL) - Desire
  • ROSE (DAMASK) - Freshness, Persian Ambassador of Love
  • ROSE (DARK CRIMSON) - Mourning
  • ROSE (DOG) - Pleasure & Pain
  • ROSE (HIBISCUS) - Delicate, Beauty
  • ROSE (LEAF) - You may Hope
  • ROSE (LAVENDER) - Enchantment
  • ROSE (ORANGE) - Fascination
  • ROSE (PINK) - Perfect Happiness, Secret Love, Grace & Sweetness, Indecision
  • ROSE (DARK PINK) - Thankfulness
  • ROSE (PALE PINK) - Grace, Joy
  • ROSE (PEACH) - Immortality, Modesty
  • ROSE (RED) - Love, I love you, Respect, Beauty
  • ROSE (DEEP RED) - Bashful, Shame
  • ROSE (TEA) - I'll Remember - Always
  • ROSE (THORNLESS) - Love at first sight, Early Attachment
  • ROSE (WHITE) - Innocence, Purity, Humility, I am Worthy of You, Secrecy, Silence
  • ROSE (WHITE & RED TOGETHER) - Unity, Flower Emblem of England
  • ROSE (WHITE-DRIED) - Death is Preferable to Loss of Virtue
  • ROSE (YELLOW) - Joy, Jealousy, Friendship (one yellow rose with 11 red ones means love & passion)
  • ROSEBUD - Beauty & Youth, A Heart Innocent of Love
  • ROSEBUD (RED) - Pure & Lovely
  • ROSEBUD (WHITE) - Girlhood, Heart Ignorant of Love
  • ROSEBUD (MOSS) - Confessions of Love
  • ROSES (Bouquet of full bloom) - Gratitude
  • ROSES (Single full bloom) - I truly love you, Simplicity.
  • ROSES (GARLAND or CROWN OF) - Beware of Virtue, Reward of Merit, Symbol of Superior Merit
  • ROSEMARY - Remembrance
  • RUSH- Docility
  • SAGE - Wisdom, Great Respect, Speedwell Female Fidelity
  • SHAMROCK - Lightheartedness
  • SNAPDRAGON - Gracious Lady, Strength
  • SNOWDROP - Hope, Consolation
  • SPEARMINT - Warm Sentiment
  • SPIDER FLOWER - Elope with me
  • STAR OF BETHLEHEM - Atonement, Reconciliation
  • STRAW FLOWER - Agreement
  • STRAW (BROKEN) - Broken agreement
  • SUNFLOWER (TALL) - False riches, Pride
  • SUNFLOWER ( DWARF) - Adoration
  • SWEETPEA - Good-by, Departure, Blissful Pleasure, Thank You for a Lovely Time
  • SWEET-WILLIAM - Grant me one smile, Gallantry
  • TULIP (GENERAL) - Perfect Lover, Fame, Flower Emblem of Holland
  • TULIP (RED) -Believe me, Declaration of Love
  • VALERIAN - Accommodating Disposition 
  • VENUS FLYTRAP - Caught at Last
  • VERBENA - Pray for me, Sensibility
  • VERVAIN - Enchantment
  • VINE - Intoxicating
  • VIOLET - Modesty, Virtue, Affection
  • VIOLET (BLUE) - Watchfulness, Faithfulness, Love
  • VIOLET (WHITE) - Let's Take A Chance On Happiness
  • WALL FLOWER - Faithful in Adversity, Fidelity, Lasting Beauty
  • WINTERGREENS - Harmony
  • WISTERIA - Welcome
  • WITCH HAZEL - A spell
  • WOLFBANE- Misanthropy, Chivalry, Knight
  • WOODBINE - Fraternal Love
  • WORMWOOD - Absence, Do not be discouraged
  • YARROW - Cure for heartache
  • ZEPHYR FLOWER- Sincerity, Symbol of Love
  • ZINNIA (MAGENTA) - Lasting Affection
  • ZINNIA (MIXED) - Thinking (or in memory) of an Absent Friend
  • ZINNIA (SCARLET) - Constancy
  • ZINNIA (WHITE) - Goodness
  • ZINNIA (YELLOW) - Daily Remembrance

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Birthday weekend

I apologize for my lack of posts lately. It was my birthday in Monday, so you will have to excuse me if I was out enjoying myself this weekend.
I got a few Victorian related gifts at my party this Saturday. The first was a lovely mini top hat from my pal Joan. It was made by Art of Adornment
I wore it out to the bar, and thought it went well with my purple dress.

I also got a couple of great books. The first is Tales of Mystery and Imagination a collection of works by Edgar Allen Poe (thanks Richel). My Victorian Gothic heart waits in anticipation to crack open it's spine. Perfect fall reading. How I love thee Edgar!

Finally, for Victorian theme gifts, I received The Victoria House by Judith Flanders from Ms. Chloe. It goes through a typical Victorian house room by room and talks about the items and customs associated with that room. So inspiring!

With fall approaching, is there any autumn reading you are planning on?

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Friday, August 5, 2011

The Language of Fans

With the days being excessively hot lately, there are two accesories I wish I possessed for the hot summer months, a parasol and a fan. I know fans are fairly easy to find, but finding the right one that suits me, is the challenge. This got me thinking about what used to be a common accesory during the 19th century. As you can imagine, crowded social events coupled with wearing layers of petticoats and crinoline, and a tight corset must of been a recipe for overheating. A fan was a necessary item, to keep onesself cool. It was also a fashion accesory and a tool to flirt with. I remember hearing that there was even a "fan language" used for flirting with men.

During the Victorian era, it was considered improper in polite society for women to approach men in public.(I would of made a terrible Victorian lady, or atleast a very scandalous one). If you were interested in a man you had to be formally intorduced to him by an acquaintance. Even then, after the introduction, it was the man who did all the advancing. A woman could not be seen either as openly rejecting a man, even if he was clearly objectionable, or of being too eager and flirtatious. Also as courtship was in public under the watchful eyes of others, women developed subtle cues and signals as a way to commuincate with lovers. One of these ways was with movement and gestures using fans.

Fan language supposedly began in Spain during the 1600s and can still be seen in some types of traditional Spanish dance. It eventually spread from there to other parts of Europe. Historians have debated if this fan language was real or not, some saying that it is just a romantic notion that was never actually practiced. Still others say that it was a language passed between women and meanings varied in different areas. Some of the gestures and their meanings are listed below.

Fan held in the left hand: I am alone or I would like to meet you.
Fan held in the right hand: I am married, engaged.
Fast Fanning: I am married (also maybe just - It's hot in here).
Held against the left ear: You are changed
Twirling the fan in the left hand: I no longer want you.
Twirling a fan in the right hand: I love another.
Fanning with the left hand: Come closer and speak to me
Fanning with the right hand: I want to dance.
Opening the fan in a brisk movement: Don't come near, wait for my signal.
Closing the fan in a brisk movement: You don't love me anymore.
Fan held close to the heart: I am in love with you.
Fan held close to the right shoulder: Do not give away our secret.
Fan resting against the right cheek: When can we meet alone? or Yes
Fan resting against the left cheek: You wound me. or No.
Fan hiding the face with the right hand: Follow me.
Fan hiding the face with the left hand: I love another man.
Snatching the fan and holding it with both hands: or Drawing the fan across the eyes: I am sorry.
Snatching the fan, holding it with both hands and upside down: I will get my revenge.
Fan held against the lips: You can kiss me now.
Opening a fan wide: Wait for me.
Partially opening the fan: The number of ribs visible indicates a specific hour, counting from 9 o'clock in the morning.
Pretending to look attentively at the pattern of the fan or drawing the fan across the head: We are being watched.
Dropping the fan: I just want to be friends.
Running a finger along the edge of the open fan: You are cruel to me.
Drawing a fan through your hand quickly: I hate you.

Looking at the list of meanings and movements, I wonder if young men actually understood these gestures or were even paying attention. Also did young women who were absently fanning themselves send incorrect signals to men by accident? Did they get scolded for certain fan movements by the chaperons? While I think this is very poetic, I am very glad to live in a day, where I don't have to resort to subtle gestures of a fan if I like a man.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Once again the fabulous VictorianKitty has set a fashion theme for the month at her blog Sophostique Noir. Check out her beautiful headpiece and the other blogs participating Here.

With that theme in mind I thought I'd write a little about the history of the fascinator. While ladies have probably been sticking pretty flowers and feathers in their for eons, the fascinator really took off in the 18th century. It was the era of giant wigs, and ladies sought to make their enormous bouffants stand out by adorning them with feathers, beads, and even pillows and model ships and cannons.

After the French Revolution, it was no longer considered proper to display such ostentatiousness. During the early 19th century ladies hairstyles were simpler and kept closer to the head. If they added a feather or ribbon, it was small and modest.
As the late 1800s progressed and into the Edwardian era, ladies hairstyles became more elaborate again and they began to add fascinators back into their fashion repertoire.

With economic decline in the 1930s they began to fall out of favor again, but are experiencing a resurgence these days. I wonder if fascinators are an indicator of optimism? As I notice they tend to appear in more upbeat eras.

Here's my fascinator which I got at good old "Marks and Sparks" for £15.

I'd also like to take a moment to thank everyone for reading and following my little blog. When I started this I had no idea if anyone would be interested at all, and as of last week I passed the 50 follower mark. Thank you all so much! To show my appreciation I will be doing a giveaway of a piece of art made just for this. I will post pics once it's done and more details, but I just wanted everyone to know about it. Below is an example of the kind of work I do.( The picture quality isn't the best, but you get the idea). I'll be making a painting with more of a Victorian theme for this.

Also, please let me know what kind of posts you are interested in.

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