Why shape and color of pomegranate is popular used in interior?
Fashion and House Decorators love the pomegranate for its color and shape. Chefs are drawn to its sweet juice and jewel-like crimson seeds. But in addition to these modern uses, the pomegranate has been a popular motif in the decorative arts since ancient times. As a religious symbol, its significance spans the Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist faiths.
The history of pomegranate
The fruit is from a tree native to Iran. After 2,000 B.C., the cultivation of this fruit spread through the Arabian Peninsula and Mediterranean countries. Today, pomegranates also are available in other places, including California.
In the ancient cultures of Greece, Rome, and China, the pomegranate represented fertility and future descendants. In ancient Greece, it was a symbol of Persephone, the goddess of agriculture, and signified the return of life in the spring. In Latin, the pomegranate is known as punica granatum, the “apple with many seeds.” Roman women often wore bridal wreaths of pomegranate branches, also seeing it as a fertility symbol. In ancient India, the juice was considered a remedy for infertility.
How pomegranate style is used in house and fashion design?
Called the liu in Chinese, the pomegranate is known as one of the “Three Plenties,” or wishes for good fortune. Combined with a lemon (symbolizing blessings) and a peach (meaning longevity), the pomegranate is one of the most common motifs in Chinese decorative arts. “This symbolism is very meaningful to the Chinese; it is the ultimate idea of the good life: fertility, the wish for a long life, good fortune, and many sons,” says Amanda Lange, assistant curator of ceramics, metals, and glass at Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts.
“Because the Chinese believed the pomegranate represented future generations, ceramics with images of the fruit may have been given to couples upon marriage,” she adds. The motif often is included on the popular “Tobacco Leaf,” a Chinese Export porcelain pattern made for the European market from the 1750s to the 19th century, and still reproduced today.
Pomegranates also are important symbols in the Jewish and Christian religions. There are abundant biblical references to the pomegranate, including one to King Solomon and his pomegranate orchard. In Judaism, the fruit represented fecundity. The fruit’s reported 613 seeds correspond to the number of Torah commandments that believers were expected to obey. Ancient Jewish temples often were decorated with images of the pomegranate.
The pomegranate’s Christian significance includes that of fertility, but the fruit also symbolizes the Christian church, whose congregation members are represented by the seeds contained in one shell. The pomegranate was popular as a decorative motif from the 15th through the 18th centuries on textiles, rugs, silver, embroideries, and wall coverings. The flowering pomegranate tree appeared frequently on 16th-century Tabriz and Persian rugs. Jacobean plasterwork of that time often depicted split pomegranates. Some 17th-century silver tankards featured pomegranate feet instead of ball feet.
“A stylized pomegranate has been a decorative motif since biblical times,” says Titi Halle, owner of Cora Ginsberg, an antique textiles dealer in New York City. Inspired by Islamic designs, the fruit also appeared on Renaissance velvets and damasks used for clothing and interior decoration. This elaboration of the fruit’s design looked more like an open flower or palmette in a geometric framework than the actual fruit.
By the mid-18th century, the pomegranate’s religious meaning was overshadowed by its graphic popularity. “The pomegranate was part of the textile design repertoire, perhaps copied from natural history books, but people didn’t ascribe any meaning to it by this period,” says Linda Baumgarten, curator of textiles and costume at Colonial Williamsburg.
By mid-century, such motifs were replaced by smaller-scale striped or floral patterns. Pomegranate designs on fabrics for interior decoration also went out of fashion. “By the 1750s, copperplate printed textiles with figural designs and historical scenes were used for curtains and slipcovers,” says Baumgarten.
The popularity of the pomegranate’s image on wall coverings is shown by wallpaper, circa 1509, found on the beams of Christ Church dining hall at Cambridge University in England. This printed paper repeats abstract pomegranate designs that were inspired by Italian Renaissance textiles.
“Wallpaper always imitates something else,” says Joanne Warner, assistant curator of wall coverings at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City. “It often is closely aligned with popular textile patterns and motifs.” When pomegranates appeared on fabrics, wallpaper followed suit. “While the design was used in Colonial America, it is not a major theme. It’s not like the pineapple,” adds Warner.