The peony has been wrapped in lore for millennia. Each culture touched by the sweet scent of peonies has attached its own significance to the flower’s showy blossoms that range in color from white, cream, and pink, to coral, rose, and scarlet. They’ve been captured on porcelain, screen paintings, canvas, and clothing for generations, and this summer they’re here in Hawaii on the new Kupulau Pareau Aloha shirts at Reyn Spooner.
HISTORY AND LORE OF THE PEONY
The revered flower has been the subject of legends and myths as long as there have been stories to tell. It is said that the Peony gets its name from Greek mythology. Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing, threatened to kill his apprentice Paeon in a fit of jealousy. Luckily for Paeon, Zeus stepped in and saved him by turning him into a flower. Thereafter, the peony was known as the healing flower.
The cherished peony is a national flower of China. With the propagation of the first cultivated peonies in China 4000 years ago, they were often bred to produce stunning double blooms. Scarlet peonies (chishao) have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to cool the blood, relieve pain, and produce antiseptics. They’re also used to make a delicate white tea that releases medicinal properties. Peonies symbolize elegance, wealth, and prosperity in Chinese culture, and are known as the rose without thorns.
When Buddhist monks brought peonies to Japan, it was for their medicinal properties rather than for ornamental beauty. Over the next few hundred years, they made their way into gardens, and growers hybridized the flower for simpler, more delicate blooms. Japanese artists honored the peony by adorning porcelain and tapestries with it, and featuring it in poetry and literature. Known as the King of Flowers in Japan, peonies have a more masculine connotation and symbolize good fortune, protection, bravery, and honor. They are often used in tattoos to signify a casual, worry-free attitude.
PEONIES IN WESTERN CULTURE
Peonies came to the West in the 13th century and, like in the East, were first used medicinally. Europeans used the flowers to relieve the pain of childbirth and cure gallstones. Peonies also played a role in Western arts and culture. Renoir, Van Gogh, and other painters worked to capture the essence and beauty of peonies on canvas. White peonies represented virtues of bashfulness and chastity during the Victorian Era, and eventually peonies became a symbol in marriage. Peonies are the 12th wedding anniversary flower, and today they are especially popular in modern bridal bouquets.
EAST MEETS WEST AT REYN SPOONER
While the blooms are delicate, peony plants have been known to thrive up to an astounding 100 years, and regularly have lifespans of 40 to 50 years. Reyn Spooner features a minimalist version of the early summer peony blooms on our new Kupulau Pareau aloha shirts.
Kupulau Pareau comes in three colors. The almond shirt with blue peonies is perfect for an effortless daytime look. Pair it with a pair of Kona cargo shorts and keep your look summer casual. The coal-colored Kupulau Pareau with almond-colored peonies is easy to dress up for a beach wedding, a night out, or a sunset dinner. Wear it with a pair of Olu‘Olu (casual) twill pants for a casual chic style. The royal blue Kupulau Pareau with espresso peonies makes a great yachting or sailing shirt when teamed up with a pair of Haleiwa Shorts.
The Limited Edition Kupulau Pareau shirt is sure to become a summer staple with its signature Spooner Kloth fabric that is easy to care for and wrinkle free. This shirt comes in two styles, either button front or a more casual pullover style. Both have a classic relaxed fit with a straight hem and side vents for ultimate comfort.