Tip Toe Through The Tulipiere

After hiding from us during the cold months, one of the delightful things that begins happening each new year is that tulips begin appearing as if by magic. Tulips are certainly one of my favorite flowers. Everything about them is delightful! The name "tulip" comes from the Persian word for turban. Interestingly enough, there is not one species of the tulip which is native to the country of Holland. Almost all tulips originated in central parts of Asia, in countries such as Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Georgia, among others.

Although tulips were not originally from Holland, we do however have the Dutch to thank for one of the most exquisite vases ever created - the tulipiere. In our times these vases have become uncommon and hard to find. Years and years ago, I was mesmerized by a huge one from the 18th century that was being displayed at Neiman Marcus. I never forgot it. Until recently I did not even know the correct name for these vases or flower holders. After researching the subject, I learned that while they are rarities today, during the 17th century, tulipieres were pieces of decorative art that were often found in the homes of European elites. When large scale global trading began in the 1600s, flowers from Asia such as the tulip, became luxury items in Europe. As a matter of fact, ‘Tulip Mania’ became a favorite subject of art after the stock market crash of 1637. During this time it was less expensive to purchase a still life painting of these flowers than to purchase a bouquet - and the painting lasted longer!

Tulipieres were created to display the treasured tulips in the homes of the elite. After all, once the tulips bloomed, Dutch tulip arrangers couldn't’t just flop such precious commodities into just any ordinary container. Holland’s tulip aficionados collaborated with ceramic artists to produce the tulipiere—a vase specially designed to high-lite each individual tulips to the absolute best. Cleverly it was not just the high price of the tulips that inspired the tulipiere. As you may know from handling tulips, once they are cut and set in water, they have a way of dipping downwards. The tulipiere serves as a kind of constraint, reining the tulips upward.

No wonder tulips and tulipieres make us feel so luxurious!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Tulips are definitely one of my favorites. The tulipiere is a fascinating type of vase. I never thought about it being for the purpose of reining the tulips upward.