Monday, October 20, 2008

Blessed Pomegranate Fruits

"It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree:
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale."
- William Shakespeare, "Romeo & Juliet"

The Chinese revere the "three blessed fruits," (Fu-Shou-San-Tuo) as representative of The Three Greatest Blessings. The three fruits are the Hand-of-Buddha (Citris medica) which symbolizes happiness; the Peach (Amygdalus persica), symbolizing longevity; and the Pomegranate (Punica granatum) which symbolizes fecundity and a hopeful future.

I found this beautiful miniature pomegranate tree this weekend at the nursery I visited to buy sweet pea seeds. It's probably the dwarf "Nana", and it is destined to become bonsai in a dish garden.

The pomegranate is not native to China however. It is believed that it was brought there from Afghanistan during the Han dynasty (circa 126 BC). A ripe pomegranate, half-open and showing the ruby jeweled seeds became the Chinese symbol of numerous male (!) offspring rising to fame and glory and generally possessed of great filial virtue.

Shakespeare used the nightingale singing at night to prefigure that the lovers would remain together, but possibly only in death. I prefer to reflect on the Chinese symbolism of filial piety. I could say that this little pomegranate tree means I'm all set for being cared for in my dotage - at least a little bit.


kate smudges said...

I didn't know about the three blessed fruits - thanks for teaching me something new. The pomegranate plant looks beautiful in its colourful pot.

Now I'm wondering what it might mean that the pomegranate that I bought last summer died after a few months.

Have a good week and thanks for visiting me. Oh, did you get the sweet pea seeds? I just posted a photo of one that I discovered blooming a few days ago in my garden.

walk2write said...

Just like a woman (Juliet) to want the evening prolonged and just like a man (Romeo) to make excuses for calling it a night! Oh well, enjoy your beautiful little shrub. Maybe it has some of that Middle Eastern grit left to help it thrive.