We are all familiar with tulips – those delicate spring flowers that every man gives to women. We have heard about the “tulip revolutions” in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. But few people know that tulips have had a peculiar role in history – from economic crises to the first financial pyramid scheme. It turns out that tulips have even saved people from starvation.
The history of tulips begins in Central Asia, not in Holland as many people think. Wild tulips can be seen in the valleys of the Tien Shan, in the fields of China, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Altai. A particularly impressive sight is the May steppe on the border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, where whole fields are covered with scarlet tulip flowers.
Although the ancient steppe people did not plant beds and flower beds of tulips, they admired the spring steppes full of scarlet flowers. Legends said that the first tulip grew on the blood of the last dragon, and old men claimed that the flower grew from the body of a dead warrior. Thus, the number of scarlet tulips in the steppe was related to the number of fallen soldiers.
The first garden tulips began to be cultivated in ancient Persia, where they were brought from the steppe lands. Interestingly, even the cruel and fierce King Cambyses showed awe for flowers, including tulips, and took care of them himself. However, he punished gardeners who made mistakes with painful executions.
The Turks were also in love with tulips and bred them in their gardens. They called these flowers “lale” and even named their daughters by this name. During nighttime feasts, turtles with lighted candles attached to their shells were released in the gardens, creating a magnificent spectacle.
The first tulips came to Europe thanks to the envoy of the Austrian Emperor Ollier de Busbecome, who brought a large batch of bulbs and seeds to Vienna. There, botany professor Charles de Lecluse, known as Carolus Clusius, fell in love with these exotic flowers and sent them to all his friends and acquaintances.
Thus, tulips have a rich history associated with different cultures and countries. They have been a symbol of beauty and wealth, but they have also caused economic crises and financial pyramids. Nevertheless, they remain one of the most beloved flowers in the world.