Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Pomegranate


 For thousands of years, the pomegranate, a juicy red fruit with many seeds, has been both a source of food and herbal medicine. Its many seeds made it a symbol of fertility, for out of one fruit could come many more. To the Romans, the pomegranate signified marriage, and brides decked themselves in pomegranate-twig wreaths.

Pomegranate seeds appear in the Greek myth of the goddess Demeter, protector of grain, crops, and the earth's bounty, and her daughter Persephone. 

One day Persephone was picking flowers when Hades, the king of the underworld, seized her and carried her to his dark realm to be his bride. Grief-stricken, Demeter refused to let crops grow.  All of humankind would have starved had not Zeus ordered Hades to release Persephone. Hades let her go, but first he convinced her to eat some pomegranate seeds. Having once eaten the food of the underworld, Persephone could never be free of the place. Henceforth she was fated to spend part of each year with Hades. 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's painting of Persephone - model Jane Morris       

When Persephone goes back to Hades, the world turns barren, but when she returns to her mother, the earth produces flowers, fruit, and grain. Thus this ancient Greek myth gave rise to an explanation for the seasons.

I love the sculptural shape and form of a pomegranite, and the way that it's protective crimson leathery shell safely carries its cargo of shiny red seeds, resembling a jeweller's pouch filled with rubies.

We were both thrilled and delighted when we opened one of our presents on Christmas morning which contained a painting of a pomegranite. A gift that had been especially painted for us by one of our greatly loved granddaughters. 

29 comments:

  1. What a beautiful painting, a lovely gift from a very talented granddaughter. We rarely see pomegranites here, so they are a rare treat. I love their rich ruby red colour - they seem a very glamourous member of the fruit world. And now I know they are special, having their own place in Roman mythology.

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    1. I recall being very excited when I first spotted an orchard of pompegranites in Morocco, and henceforth that delight continues. They are as you mention a very glamourous and exotic member of the fruit world.

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  2. While I am not especially fond of the fruit, the painting might easily find a place on my walls! A lovely surprise I am sure, Rosemary.

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    1. Actually, I admit that I too am not fond of the flavour of either pomegranite juice or their seeds, but that does not stop me from admiring their sculptural and unusual form.

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  3. There was something striking about the women in Pre-Raphaelite paintings, especially Dante Gabriel Rossetti's painting of Persephone. Yes the sculptural shape and the colour of a pomegranite are stunning, almost as if the fruit had been invented by a sculptor. But Jane Morris' dress and hair are spectacular.

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    1. There is a very similar portrait of Jane wearing the same luscious blue silk dress in William Morris's old home, Kelmscott Manor, which is just a few miles along the Cotswold lanes from me. I did a post showing it here, if you are interested in seeing it. https://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.com/2013/09/william-morriss-home-kelmscott-manor.html

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    2. Thank you. I am in love all over again :)

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  4. What a beautiful gift from your granddaughter! She's very talented!

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    1. We are gradually building up a little collection of the paintings that she has done for us.

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    2. Loved learning more about this beautiful fruit - and that painting by Rossetti has always been a favorite. Your granddaughter's art is wonderful, such a nice surprise, and apparently she added the fish, bird, grains(?)and leaves etc. Such a charming piece to hang on your wall Rosemary.

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    3. Thanks Mary - the painting appears to reflect the season of plenty.

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  5. Dear Rosemary,
    What a lovely story. I am so glad that you shared it with us. That is a beautiful painting your granddaughter gifted you. It is obvious that she is a fine artist.

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    1. Dear Gina - thank you, I am really pleased to know that you enjoyed it.

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  6. That's a beautiful gift from your granddaughter. The pomegranate is pretty but I'm not fond of them.

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    1. Not keen on the actual tast myself Polly, maybe it is an acquired taste! However, I love to see them growing, and its appearance. It's certainly a fruit that has always been much loved by artists, and especially so during the Italian Renaissance.

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  7. Hello Rosemary, Talent seems to run in your family. I love pomegranates to eat directly, but am not fond of the current fad of sprinkling the seeds on foods, as I dislike biting down on their hard centers.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - when we travelled through Turkey the hotels always had jugs full of pomegranite juice available during breakfast which, I think, is probably the best way to have them.

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  8. Dearest Rosemary,
    This is a nice story from the Greek perspective but way before Pomegranate was known and used in Persia, around 8,000 years ago. Its name in Persian is anar dana.
    Love the painting you received from your granddaughter!
    Hoping that one day we can pick our own... https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2014/08/growing-pomegranates-ancient-persian.html
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - how fortunate you are to have your own pomegrante tree. When I first saw their bright red blossom during Spring I was really surprised at what a vibrant colour it was. Hope you don't have to wait too much longer until you can pick some of your own.

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  9. I don't believe I've heard the story of the pomegranate's origin before. What a beautiful gift from your talented granddaughter.

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    1. Several of our grandchildren made gifts for us. Grandchildren are such a joy.

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  10. Used to get them as a child but only occasionally as a treat. Not had one for years. Unique taste but all the seeds did make it hard work. Same reason I prefer eating seedless grapes. The more we learn about nature the more complex and extraordinary it becomes with trillions of interconnecting parts- the ultimate jigsaw puzzle just when we think we can see it becoming clearer.'Garden of Eden' might also explain the abundance of fruit that originally came out of that eastern Mediterranean area yet now cultivated worldwide which Roman conquests first brought into Europe,

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    1. It's strange because I also remember them being around as a child and then they disappeared off the scene for years. I recall that they were cut in halve and people would eat them by getting the seeds out with a long sharp needle - a rather a dangerous and very non-pc thing to do.

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  11. Wow, Rosemary, thank you for illuminating the background of Demeter! Such a beautiful way to explain seasons!
    Pomegranates I love to look at, but find them trying to use (though I know a trick how to). Nowadays even in rural Bavaria they sell the seeds "only" - but I think that takes away the wonderful spectacle of the opened fruit and the contentment when one managed to conquer it :-)

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    1. Sadly its flavour is not particularly to my taste - the most satifactory way of using them is to make a juice. That is what they tend to do with their crops in Turkey.

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  12. What a lovely Christmas gift, Rosemary! A real treasure for your home. We have a marvellous memory of a trip to Turkey where we sat at the dusty roadside overlooking a valley, en route to a Roman city ruin - Termessos, I think - eating yellow and red pomegranates our archaeologist-guide bought from a nearby farmer. It didn't matter then what mess we made of ourselves and the pomegranates but they are such a fiddle to try preparing tidily at home!

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    1. Dear Pip - We have visited Turkey many times but have not visited Termessos. It is the most extraordinary country - we love it. Pomegranites conjure up Turkey.

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