Saffron is a spice with both culinary uses and symbolic importance. Difficult to find and time consuming to gather and process, it was highly prized by many cultures and has acquired a number of important meanings over the centuries.
In Europe, the use of saffron was largely confined to the upper crust of society due to the spice's high cost. In that vein, it was commonly associated with royalty and nobility. The golden coloring was also a symbol of the sun, and that celestial body has, in turn, been symbolically associated with royalty.
Moving east, specifically to India and other parts of Asia, saffron took on a distinctly different set of meanings. The robes of certain Buddhist monks and nuns are dyed using saffron, the color symbolizing renunciation and humility. Saffron also carries meaning in other Indian religions (Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism); saffron or orange colored flags indicate a place of worship, and saffron paste is used as adornment in certain Hindu ceremonies.
In Bhutan, a small country nestled in the Himalayan mountains, saffron is once again associated with royalty. Traditional men's clothing - known as the gho - is sometimes accessorized with a long silk scarf called a kabney. The kabney comes in a variety of colors, and national law stipulates which colors can be worn by individuals, depending on his profession and position in society. A saffron-colored kabney may be worn only by two men; the King of Bhutan and the Je Khenpo, or chief abbot.
- 1,887 Views
More symbols in Buddhist Symbols:
More symbols in Colors:
We all see colors in our everyday lives, no matter where we live or where we look. While certain colors are often associated specific things, the colors themselves- including individual shades- typic… read more »
More symbols in Hindu Symbols:
More symbols in Religious Symbols:
Religious symbolism is the use of symbols, including archetypes, acts, artwork, events, or natural phenomena, by a religion. Religions view religious texts, rituals, and works of art as symbols of co… read more »
More symbols in Plants, Trees, and Flowers:
The natural world is home to a vast variety of symbols, and plants, trees and flowers are among the most symbolically charged objects you'll ever encounter. Some of their symbolic meanings are w… read more »