Tales of the Tulip

Legend has it, once upon a time, a lovelorn young man was sitting outside the Hagia Sophia looking quite glum. He was the veritable picture of sorrow since, he had been just turned down by the girl he was courting. He had taken a tulip to give to her and after the rejection had stuck it in his turban and completely forgotten about it.

After a while, a traveler from Austria, walked up to him and pointed to the tulip and asked "What is that called?". The young man, completely having forgotten about the tulip, thinks he's referring to his turban and says "Tül-ben", referring to the muslin that the turban was made of. Through a quirk of fate, the traveler thought that was indeed the name of the flower, and when he took it back to Europe, it became 'Tulip'...

...or so they say. There seem to be as many legends of the etymology of the word tulip as there are varieties - Reds, orange, blue, white, yellow, white with yellow edge, pink with orange borders, blues, white speckled with red, dark purple.. and the list goes on.

While one may think that tulips originated in Holland, fact is that they were bought in to Istanbul by the invading Ottomans from Central Asia into Turkey and from there on conquered the world (the tulips, not the Ottomans).

The beauty of the flower struck the visiting Europeans so much, that tulip cultivation became really, really big. With flowers being grown all over and with keen competition arising to see who could cultivate the most beautiful tulip, these bulbs became commodities in themselves. In fact, an early example of economic bubbles were in trading tulip futures. In the spring of 1673, Dutch traders, bid up prices so much that a single bulb could cost as much as a house in Amsterdam. Speculators eventually wisened up to the fact that prices cant go infinitely high and eventually, the crash came, bringing down the tulip industry to back to sanity and Holland into a depression.

375 years later, sitting in Gülhane park, all that was irrelevant. What counted was the profusion of beauty with the rows of tulips and banks of other flowers. I missed the Istanbul Tulip Festival of 2010 by just a day, but tulips were still everywhere. One roadside planters, gardens, on billboards, in the gardens, at the Topkapi palace-museum grounds, on the livery of the aircraft, absolutely everywhere.

The 6 petaled flower simply takes the breath away and the more you see, the more you want to see. While acres and acres of commercial cultivation may look really pretty in photographs, it is quite un-natural. There is a delight in looking at the tulips in the shade of a bare tree and among other flowers in the park. One might imagine that the tulips were planted for the visitors to rejoice in, but crowds of İstanbullus flock to the squares, gardens and parks taking photographs, playing with children in prams, laughing with brothers, sisters, friends and lovers and welcoming spring after a cold winter

Trampled byY Trip at Sunday, April 11, 2010


Mohan said... April 11, 2010 at 6:03 PM  

Great pics of tulips in various colors! I didn't know the history of tulips on how they arrived on to UK until last week. I am sure tulips make a feast for all in Turkey which is the root of tulips across the world!

Y Trip said... April 11, 2010 at 6:19 PM  

Thanks Mohan, the tulips really are beautiful. Unfortunately, my vocabulary is not good enough to convey what I feel!! :)

joshi daniel said... April 13, 2010 at 2:46 PM  

nice tulips and good information!

Lakshmi Rajan said... April 14, 2010 at 7:46 PM  

Nice info and wonderful pictures... i always thought Tulips originated in Europe... interesting to know the real fact :)

Anupama. said... April 14, 2010 at 8:24 PM  

Very well written...

Y Trip said... April 14, 2010 at 8:33 PM  

@lakshmi, @joshi,@anu thanks guys.. keep visiting :)

Nisha said... April 16, 2010 at 11:40 PM  

I can just smile on this post. :-)

Have you read this one ?

Y Trip said... April 17, 2010 at 9:57 PM  

@Nisha heading there now.. :)

Andrei Barbu said... April 19, 2010 at 7:55 PM  

Great stories and infos! Excellent!

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