Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices.
Song of Solomon 4:13-14 (KJV)
Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all chief spices.
Song of Solomon 4:13-14 (RSV)
Your skin is a paradise of pomegranates, with the choicest fruits, henna plants along with spikenard plants; spikenard and saffron, cane and cinnamon, along with all sorts of trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest perfumes.
Song of Solomon 4:13-14 (NWT)
In biblical times, saffron was important to oriental people as a condiment and sweet perfume. Still, it was not mentioned by early Sanskrit writers (although KAB present nearly fifty Sanskrit names for the plant; DEP listed only three). Arabian authors speak of its cultivation in the 10th century at Darband and Ispahan. Chinese state that Mohammedens introduced it to China during the Yuen dynasty. Mullahs are said to write charms with a saffron ink (DEP). The stigmas were especially valued as a food colorant (e.g., adding yellows to Indian curries). It was mentioned by Dioscorides. In Pliny's time, benches at public theaters were strewn with saffron, the precious petals placed in small fountains, to diffuse the scent into public halls. One cannot believe the figures one sees for this most expensive of spices until we realize that it was not specified whether they were talking fresh weight (for the flowers stigmata) or perhaps dry weight for the saffron (dried stigmata). From my reading, "It takes 100,000 flowers to yield 1 kg saffron" (one flower yields 10 mg, or 3.33 mg per stigmata; BIB), or "4000 to make an ounce" (circa 3000 mg), or one flower yielding only 0.75 mg, or 0.25 mg per stigmata (DEP). So I asked our garden director, Holly Vogel, to weigh some so we would know how many flowers it would take to give that 30-mg saffron dose. Her sister sent data from an online spice company suggesting that a single stigma would weigh 2 mg. I like that answer; it will take 15 stigmata (there are three in a flower) to attain that 30-mg posology. My calculations suggested 40 flowers or 120 stigmata at the low dry weight, or only three flowers at the high dry weight. Maybe if I munch 15 stigmata next spring, in the sunshine, it will cure my midwinter Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you are foolish enough to wish to check our calculations, buy some saffron; if each orange thread is simple, you may have the real spice; but if, on analysis, each thread turns out to be a small withered tubular flower, you may have the poor man's saffron, Carthamus, mentioned previously. If you find strands longer than an inch long, it might be dyed corn silk. This most expensive spice, saffron, is often adulterated. Other than food usage, it is also used in cosmetics for eyebrows and nail polishes, and as incense. Dioscorides comments on its use as a perfume, Harrison, on its use as a deodorant. Dissolved in water, it is applied to foreheads on religious and ceremonial occasions; it is also used as an ink. A Bronze Age (circa 3000-1100 BCE) Aegean wall painting in the building of Xeste 3 at Akrotiri, Thera, features Crocus. The frescoes concern saffron and healing, even depicting the harvest of stigmata; and 90 medical indications (and you thought my lists were long?) for saffron, starting in the Bronze Age. The frescoes depict a Theran goddess with her phytotherapy, saffron (X15259204).
Common Names (Saffron):
Agafrao (Por.; EFS; USN); Agnishekhara (Sanskrit; KAB); Asfar (Arab.; BOU); Azafrán (Sp.; EFS; USN); Bhavarakta (Sanskrit; EFS; NAD); Castagnolo (Potenza; KAB); Croco Florito (It.; EFS); Echter Safran (Ger.; HH3); Fan Hung Hua (China; Pin.; AH2; EFS); Giallone (It.; KAB); Grogo (Tuscany; KAB); Jafran (Beng.; KAB; NAD; WOI); Jafrana (Arab.; KAB); Jafranekar (Urdu; KAB); Kamakuma (Malaya; EFS); Kambama (Malaya; EFS); Karkom (Heb., KAB); Kasmiraja-nma (Sanskrit; DEP); Kecara (Bom.; Mar.; DEP); Kesar (Hindi; DEP; KAB); Kesara (Mar.; KAB; WOI); Keshar (Guj.; DEP; KAB); Keshara (Sanskrit; WOI): Kessar (Bom.; KAB); Koma Koma (India; EFS); Kong (Kas.; DEP; KAB; WOI); Konger (India; EFS); Kormar Romar (India; EFS);
Kouzrkour (Ber.; BOU); Krokos (Greek; KAB); Kruku (Arab.; BOU); Kumkuma (Sanskrit; DEP); Kungkumapave (Tel.; KAB; WOI); Kungumapu (Tam.; DEP; KAB; WOI); Kunkuma (Ayu.; AH2); Kunkumakesari (Kan.; Kon.; NAD; WOI); Kunkumapave (Tel.; DEP); Kunkumappu (Mal.; Tam.; NAD); Kunkumapurru (Tel.; NAD); Kunkumapuvva (Tel.; NAD); Kunkumkesarei (Kan.; KAB); Kunkumma Purru (India; EFS); Kurkam (Arab.; ZOH); Kurkum (Arab.; Bhote; DEP; KAB; ZOH); Larkimasa (Iran; KAB); Pewva (India; EFS); Piwva (India; EFS); Sa'faram (Arab.; Syria; HJP); Saferam (Arab.; ZOH); Safferian (Treviso; KAB); Saffron (Eng.; Scn.; AH2; CR2; USN); Saffron Crocus (Eng.; USN); Saffraan (Dutch; EFS); Safra (Cat.; KAB); Safran (Fr.; Den.; Ger.; Tur.; BOU; EFS; KAB; USN); Safran Cultivé (Fr.; BOU); Safran Vrai (Fr.; BOU); Saurab (Sanskrit; DEP; EFS); Schafran (Rus.; KAB); Spanish Saffron (Eng.; Ocn. AH2; KAB); Szafrana (Pol.; HH3; KAB); Thanwai (Burma; DEP; KAB); True Saffron (Eng.; Ocn.; AH2); Xi Hong Hua (Pin.; AH2); Zaafaran (Arab.; Iran; DEP; WOI); Zafar (Tur.; DEP; KAB); Za'faran (Arab.; BOU); Zafferano (It.; EFS); Zaffran (Hindi; India; EFS; NAD); Zafrah (Arab.; Iran; EFS; NAD); Zafran (Hindi; WOI); Zafrane Hor (Alg.; HH3); Zahafaran (Arab.; WOI); Zang Hong Hua (Pin.; DAA); Zipharana (Iran; NAD).
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