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TULIPS

In the Ottoman Empire, tulips played such an important role that the reign of Sultan Ahmed III (1703-1730) has been labeled the "Tulip Era". Three hundred years before Dutch and British horticulture societies got together to propose the first classified list of tulip names, Turkish flourist-in-chief in Sultan's court was heading council to judge new cultivars of tulips and was giving them fanciful and poetic names; some examples are: "Those that burn the heart", "Matchless Pearl", "Rose of colored Glass", "Increaser of Joy", "Big Scarlet", "Star of Felicity", "Diamond Envy", or "Light of the Mind". Only the most flawless cultivars were entered into the official tulip list. The Turkish florist standards were uncomprising and preferred only tall thin tulips, narrowly contoured and made up of dagger-shaped pedals. The pedals had to be smooth, stiff, of one color, the exact size and length, pedals of narrow pointed tips, and with no gaps.

For further reading: Pavord, Anna. The Tulips. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1999.

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