Pomegranate: The Fruit of Paradise

Ipshita Sen of Saffronart explores some of the mysticism attached to the ruby fruit.

New York: The pomegranate is very often associated with the term “ Fruit of Paradise” or “The Fruit of the Underworld”, or more simply, “The Seeded Apple”. Enveloped in mystery and years of folklore, the pomegranate is one of the most admired fruits. Tales of the fruit, whether in Christianity, Judaism or Greek mythology are spread across diverse cultures throughout the world.  Every culture seems to have evolved with a passing reference to the vitality of this rich fruit.

Madonna of the Pomegranate, 1487, Sandro Botticelli. Image Credit: http://www.arilsystem.com/the-pomegranate-throughout-history

Madonna of the Pomegranate, 1487, Sandro Botticelli. Image Credit: http://www.arilsystem.com/the-pomegranate-throughout-history

 A walk through history, uncovers the significance of the pomegranate across diverse cultures and religions. Ancestors were aware of the health benefits and the juicy fruit is depicted on several paintings and historic writings.

In Christianity, the fruit is symbolic of Christ’s resurrection and defines immortality. Baby Jesus holding a pomegranate is a common sight and is seen depicted in both paintings and devotional statues. In medieval legends, the pomegranate tree is a symbol of fertility and a vital aspect in the hunt of the magical creature, the unicorn. Tapestries from the period depict images of wounded unicorn’s bleeding pomegranate arils.

Pomegranate flowers and fruits in an Ottoman Kaftan. Image Credit: http://www.arastan.com/journey/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/PomegrKaftan.jpg


Pomegranate flowers and fruits in an Ottoman Kaftan. Image Credit: http://www.arastan.com/journey/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/PomegrKaftan.jpg

The pomegranate is also a significant fruit in Judaism. The seeds are meant to signify sanctity, fertility and abundance. The fruit is one of the seven sacred fruits mentioned in the Holy Bible. Illustrations of this popular fruit are also seen in Judaic architecture and couture design for the Jewish kings and priests.  In China and Japan, the fruit invokes fertility and prosperity.

Based on early excavations of the Bronze Age, it is studied that the pomegranate was the first ever fruit to be excavated. The fruit is believed to be native to Iran and the Himalayan region of Northern India and then later cultivated across Asia, Africa and Europe.

A pomegranate in a Roman mosaic from the 4th century AD. Image Credit: http://art-history-images.com/photo/7569

A pomegranate in a Roman mosaic from the 4th century AD. Image Credit: http://art-history-images.com/photo/7569

An icon of the Silk Route, the rich color and elegance of the fruit has influenced the cultural and artistic imaginations of several in the Far East and India.

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