Tulips in Transylvania

The introduction of tulip to Europe is attributed to the Ottomans and dated to the mid-end of the sixteenth century, followed by the famous Tulipmania (also called the Tulipomania or the Tulip Fever) of the United Provinces (currently the Netherlands) towards the middle of the seventeenth century. But tulips also got to central and eastern Europe. In 1573 bulbs were planted in the imperial botanical Gardens of Vienna, for example. In Transylvania it remains yet unclear when and how the new oriental flowers were introduced - the only possible sources on the matter are for now depictions of the flowers on various types of decorative objects: carpets, embroideries, stove tiles. Ottoman carpets, with various uses in Transylvania, might have been themselves, and not the actual flowers, sources of inspiration for the latter, locally-produced artefacts. See below two such tulip-decorated stove tiles, probably dated to the second half of the seventeenth century, specific to the area of Cluj-Napoca. Tulips became frequent decorative motifs in folk art during the eighteenth and nineteenth century in the province, though the history of the plants remains unclear.

 These tiles must have been very fashionable at the time, even deemed exotic and Turkish. Similar lyre-shaped tulips on straight stems starting from large bulbs were associated to even more "revolutionary" images, such as tobacco-smoking riders.

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