Tuesday, 7 July 2015

peonies and V&A Indian floral patterns

At some point I scribbled down in my notebook that the Chinese name for a peony is sho yu, which means the most beautiful. What a fitting name! In Iceland, where I grew up, peonies are called farmer's roses - bóndarósir. Perhaps a blog post about peonies is a cliché but last year I accompanied them with a book on textiles and I thought textiles and peonies were a good annual theme. The latest textile book in my collection is V&A Pattern: Indian Florals.

On the cover: Length of furnishing fabric, cotton embroidered with silk thread,
Gujurat (for the European market), early 18th century (V&A: IS.298-1951)

The V&A Pattern: Indian Florals is a small book with only four pages of text by Rosemary Crill. It has 66 pages of prints, plus the one featured on the cover and a few additional ones (a total of 71). There are short descriptions below the prints (like my captions) and the book includes a high-resolution images disc with all the patterns.
Bed-cover, dyed and quilted cotton (chintz), Coromandel Coast (for the European market), c. 1725-50 (V&A: CIRC.465-1912)
Length of dress fabric, block-printed cotton (chintz), South India (for the European market), 18th century (V&A: IS.27-1976)

The V&A Pattern books are a wonderful introduction to the design archives - textiles, decorations, wallpapers and prints - of the Victoria and Albert Museum. For textile enthusiasts or students they are ideal for collecting. Next time I think I will go for Kimono or William Morris, or perhaps the Box-Set III, which includes the books: Spitalfields Silks, Chinese Textiles, Pop Patterns, and Walter Crane.

I find it a bit difficult to make up my mind, but the books aren't expensive so I believe that in a short time I will have a good collection on my coffee table and on my bookshelves.

As I write this, my last bouquet of peonies this season is sitting in a white ceramic vase on my kitchen table. I am going to risk sounding dramatic (I'm anything but) when I say that I wish I had the powers to stop the peonies from withering. I don't want to wait for almost a whole year to breathe in their heavenly scent again.

Peonies are indeed the most beautiful.


  1. Peonies are always a winner for any interior. However, right now it is way too hot in Munich and certainly in my rooftop apartment. All flowers would wilt within two days max...

    1. luckily the high temperatures over here have gone down again so I'm hoping my last bouquet will survive just a little bit longer ... I'm constantly admiring it and feeding it fresh water every day


Your comment appears on the blog after approval. Comments with commercial links are reported as spam.