Red Gold Royalty of Saffron is mentioned in the Song of Solomon (also known as the Song of Songs or Canticles), a poetic book of the Bible that explores themes of love between a bride (Shulammite woman) and her bridegroom, which is often interpreted in Jewish and Christian traditions as representing the love relationship between God and His people.
In the Song of Solomon, saffron is referenced as follows:
"Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices." — Song of Solomon 4:14 (KJV)
This verse mentions saffron in a list of valuable spices and botanicals, indicating its value and desirability in ancient times. The context is a poetic and sensuous description of the beloved's beauty and allure. The reference to various fragrances and spices, including saffron, underscores the richness, variety, and depth of the love and attraction being described.
Given saffron's historical value as a spice, medicine, and dye, it's not surprising that it found its way into biblical poetry as a symbol of beauty and worth.
Saffron, often dubbed the "Royal Spice" or "Red Gold," has a long and illustrious history, gracing the tables of various monarchs, emperors, and noble figures throughout the ages. Its vibrant hue, intoxicating aroma, and unique flavor made it a prized possession in ancient culinary and medicinal traditions. Here are some notable figures and civilizations that cherished saffron:
Pharaohs and Nobility: Saffron was used for its therapeutic properties. Cleopatra even used saffron in her baths because of its cosmetic properties and captivating fragrance.
Cyrus the Great: Under the Achaemenid dynasty, saffron was sprinkled in royal chambers, used in perfumes, and even in medicinal applications.
Saffron cultivation and trade: The Persians were known to cultivate saffron, which became an important item for trade.
Mughal Emperors (India):
Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan: Saffron was used in various royal dishes, perfumes, and even the architectural marvel - Taj Mahal. Jahangir especially expressed his fondness for saffron-infused fragrances.
Alexander the Great: He used saffron in his infusions after returning from Asia, as it was believed to heal battle wounds. The Greeks also used saffron in perfumery and to a lesser extent in cooking.
Nero: During his entry into Rome, Nero had the streets sprinkled with saffron as a demonstration of celebration and opulence.
King Henry I of England: It's believed he used saffron to tint his royal robes.
Queen Elizabeth I: She was said to appreciate saffron for its aroma and often used it in dishes.
Saffron was not just a culinary delight but also a symbol of wealth and affluence. The labor-intensive harvesting process and the vast amount of crocus flowers required to produce even a small quantity of the spice made it extremely valuable. As a result, it became a favorite among royalty and the elite, establishing its reputation as the "Royal Spice."