Most people are aware that Pineapples carry the connotation of “welcome” and “friendship”. Over the years I’ve had numerous antique iron beds that had Pineapple castings on them in some shape or form. Some more subtle than others and then some much more obvious and pronounced. Their symbolism started in the Hawaiian Islands and is captured in many of the local furniture designs and household accessories and decorating.
But what many people aren’t aware of is a similar item……no considered a fruit…..but a vegetable that carries with it a similar positive message. The Artichoke.
On the little twin size iron beds, I have in this photograph, you’ll notice the “heart” shape in the middle and then four posters. On the end of the posts were “artichoke” castings. It’s rather surprising how many beds I’ve come across throughout the years, that have incorporated the “artichoke” in their castings. Once again….some larger and more pronounced and the others more subtle and less noticeable.
So why the “artichoke”. Beds , from the 1800′s , have always been a vehicle for designers of their day, to subtly display certain known symbolism and beliefs of their time. The “artichoke” symbolized hope….. I would think when someone bought an bed back in the 1800′s that symbolism wasn’t lost when the salesman was pitching certain designs to prospective customer . This particular twin size bed has two symbols that might seem rather unrelated. Yet when considered a little more thoroughly, they become totally related………. The “heart”, which was used extensively in bed designs, was obviously the symbol of love and prosperous future relationships. That an bed designer would incorporate both the “heart” and the “artichoke” meant they obviously felt them to have some type of connection…… and it does. The “artichoke” symbolizes hope for a prosperous future, and at the core of an artichoke is what? Exactly…….a heart. So the meaning of both ties perfectly……..love and hope for successful future relationships.
Throughout their history, beds have always displayed castings that tell a story. Many have beautiful floral castings. Due to the strict protocol of the Victorian era, emotions, wishes and thoughts were not openly expressed between men and women. Instead, an elaborate language based on flower symbolism was developed. Gifts of either single flowers or bouquets conveyed clear messages to the recipient. During the Victorian era, flowers adorned nearly everything–hair, clothing, jewelry, home decor, china plates, stationary, wallpaper, furniture and even beds.
So the next time you look at a bed…….look a little closer. Take a look at the castings. Some actually have castings of “urns” with flowers arranged in them. Other’s might only have a very simplistic single flower casting. I would venture to say nearly half of all the beds I’ve seen, incorporate some form of floral castings.
Iron beds were a perfect means with which to offer the thoughts, hopes and dreams of a growing nation.
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