Saffron Stigmas, the Red Gold

Saffron history

Saffron Stigmas Journey

Saffron stigmas are the golden-colored, pungent parts of saffron flower scientifically known as Crocus Sativus. The collectors pick the saffron stigmas, dry them to use as a spice, dye, and also for medicinal and beauty care purposes. The first documentation of saffron was in an Assyrian botanical reference collected under Ashurbanipal’s command. He was an Assyrian king who reigned from 668 to 627 BC. As a strong warrior king, he had a reputation for gathering a grand collection of cuneiform documents for his royal palace in modern Iraq.

Saffron in Persian Empire

Saffron in Persian Empire

The Empire of Persia stretched from Europe’s Balkan Peninsula in west to India’s Indus Valley in east. Archaeologists found some prehistoric cave paintings in several areas of the modern Iraq dating to 50,000 years ago. Painters used the dye of saffron stigmas to picture the beasts. Also, the ancient Persian royal carpets and funeral shrouds had interwoven saffron stigmas. Those handmades date back to the 10th century BC which their harvest field was in Derbena, Isfahan and Khorana, Iran.

 

Saffron in South and East Asia

Saffron in South and East Asia

The earliest Persian records suggest that the journey of saffron began when the Great Empire of Persia conquered Kashmir. Persian Emperor sent saffron bulbs and various spices there to stock their newly built amazing gardens. It was before 500 BC that they transferred the first Persian saffron crocus corms to Kashmir. After that, history suggests that the Mongol invasion introduced saffron stigmas and bulbs to the old Empire of China.

Saffron in India

Modern India was a part of Persia back then. In ancient times, Indian used saffron stigmas to make a golden-colored, water-soluble fabric dye. They chose the saffron color as the official color for the Buddha priests’ robes shortly after Buddha passed away. Indian monks drove this dye from saffron stigmas which was also popular for royal garments in several cultures.

 

Saffron in Greek EmpireSaffron in Greek Empire

In Greek culture, the earliest recordings of saffron goes back to Bronze Age (3200-600BC). An example is a scene of harvesting saffron in the Knossos palace frescoes of Minoan Crete. They show young girls and monkeys picking up the saffron flowers. Frescoes are a kind of mural painting on a freshly-laid or wet lime plaster. These peices provide some of the first evidences that show saffron has experinced a long-term trade.

In the Song of Solomon 4:14, powdered saffron stigma has a place among the sweet-smelling herbs. As a perfume, Greeks and Romans scattered its powder in their halls, courts, theaters, and baths. The two nations associated saffron especially with the Hetaira – a professional class of Greek courtesans. 

 

Saffron in Roman Empire

Saffron in Roman Empire

Romans had a great interest in saffron and used it as a medicine, aroma, spice and dye. According to their history, when Nero the Emperor was making his entry into the city, the Romans sprinkled saffron stigmas on the streets. Alexander the Great (356 – 323 BC) and his forces also favored saffron during their Asian campaigns. They added saffron stigmas to their teas and also made saffron rice. He also had saffron powder added to his bath water because he started to believe that it helps in healing his many wounds.

 

Saffron in Egyptian Kingdom

Saffron in Egyptian Kingdom

In Ancient Egypt, one of the earliest references shows that saffron was a seductive and aromatic essence that Cleopatra (69BC – 30 BC) and other Pharaohs used. Since the Egyptian climate is not in favor of growing saffron flowers, documents suggest that they must had imported them from north or the Great Persian Empire.

 

 

 

saffron in Spain kingdom

Saffron in Spain Kingdom

According to an English leech book of the 10th century, Arabs cultivated saffron in Spain in about 961. Apparently, saffron disappeared from Western Europe until the crusaders reintroduced it later. The Moors were the ones who introduced saffron bulbs to Spain. They have the credit for planting saffron throughout the southern provinces of Andalucía, Castile, La Mancha, and Valencia.

 

Crocus Species

Crocus is a genus of flowering plants in the iris family and has 90 species of perennials that grow from corms. Farmers plant and grow many of these flowers for the beautiful flowers in spring, autumn, or winter. One of these autumn blooming flowers is Crocus Sativus and saffron is its stigmas. Generally, Crocuses are native to the Middle East, central and southern Europe, and across the Central Asia to western China. There are nearly 30 Crocus species grown and cultivated in different parts of the world.

Crocus sativus
Crocus Sativus

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Crocus banaticus
Crocus Banaticus

Persian saffron has always been the best type of saffron in the world for it’s cultivated and processed in the original habitant of saffron. The farmers in Iran grow and nourish this Red Gold without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Village Saffron has the honor to represent the best quality Iranian Sargol saffron along with the quality tests. Our sales department is always there for you in case of any question. Feel free to reach us at any time.

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