The image of the flower has been used in Oriental decoration for over two thousand years. Some of the earliest examples, around 300 BC, can be seen in the form of embroidered silk shrouds and blankets recovered from a tomb at Mashan in Hubei province, China. A simple chain stitch has been used to create the images. The strong, stylised flowers are a dominant feature, interwoven with slender dragons and tigers.
As with all indigenous styles of visual art, influences from other parts of the world have been inevitable. The introduction of Buddhism from India affected every aspect of Eastern life, changing and enriching its literary and artistic cultures irrevocably. Buddhist iconography was adopted and adapted to accommodate native systems of belief. The early cave temples at Danhuang, Gansu province, fourth century AD, contain wonderful wall paintings: narrative strips showing stories from Buddha's life. These include beautiful flowers and floating ribbons and scarves in skies scattered with clouds.
Flowers have been incorporated into all areas of art and design in Far Eastern cultures - ceramics, wood and stone carving, weaving and embroidery, scroll work, lacquer work, woodblock printing and silk painting. Until relatively recently, distinctions were not made between art and decoration. Neolithic pottery paintings were geometric, or depicted daily activities, but flowers soon became a more important aspect of ceramic and general design. The flowers which represented the four seasons were spring - peony, summer - lotus, autumn - chrysanthemum and winter - prunus. The floral symbols of the twelve months of the year were prunus, magnolia, peach with blossom, rose, crab apple with blossom, peony, lotus, pomegranate with blossom, mallow, chrysanthemum, orchid and narcissus.
About the designs
Many of the following illustrations are fluid and life-like; others are rigid and almost abstract in the formation of geometric patterns. Some are more complex and detailed while others are very simple and have just a suggestion of form. All have been slightly adapted from original examples of oriental paintings, ceramics, carvings and textiles.
This book provides material from many inspiring aspects of Oriental flower design. You can simply copy the patterns, adapt the images to suit your own requirements, or use them as inspiration for your own designs.
1st edition 2004, Pb, 32pp giving you 46 copyright free line drawings to have fun with for non commercial activities, 21.6 x 29.3 cm