Unlocking the Meaning: What Do Peony Flowers Symbolize?

Peonies are one of the most popular flowers in the world and are highly prized for their beauty and elegance. Many cultures have fascinating tales to tell about the origin and symbolic meaning of the peony flower. Some say it is derived from the Greek Paeon, who was a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Others believe that it originated in China and represents prosperity, honor, romance, and a happy marriage.

Interestingly, the peony flower symbolizes many things beyond these beautiful aesthetics. It is also known to represent peace, balance, and good fortune. According to Chinese legend, the peony is a symbol of royalty and wealth. In Japan, peonies are a sign of good luck, and the Japanese Emperor is said to wear a peony as an emblem of his authority. Peonies are also used to express compassion and friendship, making them a popular gift option for any occasion.

It is fascinating to see the different meanings attributed to this beautiful flower in different cultures. There’s no denying that the peony’s unique symbolism has made it an enduring favorite all over the world. Whether you want to express love, convey good wishes, or seek prosperity, there is a peony to suit every sentiment. In this article, we will explore the diverse meanings of this flower in various cultures and learn how to incorporate it into our lives in meaningful ways.

History of Peony Flower Symbolism

The peony flower has a rich history of symbolism that dates back thousands of years. In ancient China, the peony was highly esteemed and valued for its beauty, fragrance, and medicinal properties. It was known as the “king of flowers,” and its popularity quickly spread throughout Asia. In fact, the peony is the national flower of China, and it plays an important role in many cultural traditions.

  • The peony flower is considered a symbol of good fortune, prosperity, and happiness. It is often used in traditional Chinese weddings to represent a happy marriage and a long-lasting union.
  • In Japan, the peony represents bravery, honor, and respect. It is often given as a gift to express gratitude, appreciation, and admiration.
  • In European culture, the peony was once associated with romance and a happy marriage. However, over time, it began to symbolize anger, shame, and regret due to its bright red color.

Throughout history, the peony has been a popular subject in art and literature. It has been featured in many famous paintings, poems, and stories, and it continues to be a beloved flower around the world. Whether you see the peony as a symbol of love, wealth, or beauty, it is clear that this magnificent flower has played an important role in many cultures throughout history.

Peony Flower Meaning in Chinese Culture

The peony flower has been revered in Chinese culture for thousands of years due to its significance in various aspects of their society including literature, art, and religion. To the Chinese, the peony represents grace, prosperity, and good fortune. It is considered the “king of flowers” and is often used as a symbol for the Chinese nation itself.

  • Riches and Honor: The peony is often associated with financial prosperity and social status. This connection stems from the fact that the flower only blooms in the spring, during the same time that traditional Chinese civil service examinations were held. Those who passed these exams would often be rewarded with high-paying government jobs, and thus their success is often attributed to the auspiciousness of the peony.
  • Femininity: The peony is also associated with femininity in Chinese culture. The flower’s delicate and voluptuous petals are likened to a beautiful woman’s body, and as a result, the peony has been used as a symbol for the idealized female form throughout Chinese art and literature.
  • Love and Marriage: In Chinese folklore, the peony is associated with the goddess of love and marriage, who is said to have hidden among these flowers to escape an unwanted suitor. As a result, the peony is seen as a symbol of happy marriage and domestic bliss in Chinese culture.

Today, the peony remains an important cultural symbol in China and is often given as a gift to celebrate special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries. The flower is also used in traditional Chinese medicine for its purported healing properties, which are said to improve circulation and reduce inflammation.

In addition to its cultural significance, the peony is also a highly sought-after ornamental plant due to its stunning beauty and versatility. It can be found in a range of colors including white, pink, red, and purple, and its large, fragrant blooms make it a popular choice for gardens and floral arrangements alike.


The peony flower is more than just a beautiful addition to a garden or bouquet – it has a rich history and deep cultural significance in Chinese society. Whether used as a symbol of wealth, femininity, love, or domestic happiness, the peony is a flower that continues to be celebrated and revered in China and beyond.

GraceRepresenting the elegant and refined qualities of Chinese culture
ProsperityAssociated with financial success and good fortune
FemininityA symbol for the idealized female form in Chinese art and literature
Love and MarriageConsidered a symbol for happy marriage and domestic bliss in Chinese culture

Overall, the peony flower has a multifaceted meaning in Chinese culture, reflecting the country’s rich history and diverse traditions. From its use in literature and art to its association with financial success and feminine beauty, the peony is a flower that continues to fascinate and inspire people around the world.

Peony Flower Meaning in Japanese Culture

Peony flowers are beloved in many cultures around the world, but in Japan they hold a special place of honor. Here, the peony is often referred to as the “King of Flowers,” and it symbolizes many important qualities and concepts in Japanese culture.

The Three Types of Peonies

  • The first type of peony is the botan, or tree peony. This variety is known for its large, showy flowers and is considered the most regal and elegant of all peonies. The botan is often associated with wealth, prosperity, and good fortune.
  • The second type of peony is the hana-shibori, or herbaceous peony. This variety has smaller flowers and a more delicate appearance than the tree peony, but it is beloved for its sweet fragrance and vibrant colors. The herbaceous peony is said to represent romance, prosperity, and good luck in love.
  • The third type of peony is the hagoromo, or Japanese peony. This variety is native to Japan and is prized for its unique shape and coloration. The hagoromo is often associated with graciousness, elegance, and refinement.

Peonies in Japanese Art and Literature

In addition to their cultural significance, peonies have also had a profound impact on Japanese art and literature throughout history. Many famous works of literature, such as the Tale of Genji, feature references to peonies and their symbolic meanings. Similarly, peonies have long been a popular subject in Japanese art, from delicate watercolor paintings to intricate woodblock prints.

Perhaps the most significant artistic representation of the peony in Japanese culture is the traditional peony garden, which features carefully arranged peony bushes in a variety of colors and shapes. These gardens are considered a symbol of the Japanese love for beauty and nature, as well as a reflection of the country’s rich artistic heritage.

The Cultural Significance of Number in Japan

In Japan, many important cultural concepts are associated with specific numbers. For example, the number three is widely considered to be a lucky number, and it is often used in traditional Japanese art, architecture, and design.

Examples of the Number Three in Japanese Culture
San-kan-zan, or “three point mountain,” refers to the three highest peaks of a mountain range and is considered a holy site in Japanese Shintoism
The traditional Japanese tea ceremony features three subtle flavors in the tea: bitter, sweet, and savory
The Japanese flag features three stripes: two red and one white

When it comes to peonies, the number three is significant in a few different ways. For example, it is common to see three peony flowers arranged together as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Similarly, many traditional Japanese paintings and prints depict three peonies in a single composition, which is thought to bring balance and harmony to the artwork.

Overall, the peony flower holds a special place of honor in Japanese culture, and its rich symbolism and history continue to inspire artists, writers, and gardeners around the world.

Peony Flower Symbolism in European Culture

Peonies are popular garden plants in Europe due to their beauty and fragrance. They were first introduced to Europe in the 18th century and quickly gained popularity among botanists and garden enthusiasts. Over the years, peonies have acquired various symbolic meanings within European culture. In this article, we will discuss the symbolism of peony flowers in European culture.

The Number 4 Symbolism

The number 4 is commonly associated with peony flowers in European culture. In many cultures, the number 4 is associated with death and bad luck. However, in European culture, the number 4 has a positive symbolism when it comes to peonies. The petals of peony flowers are arranged in multiples of four.

The number 4 is considered to be a number of harmony and stability in European culture. It is believed that having peony flowers in groups of four will bring good luck, fortune, and prosperity to the household. Peony flowers are often used during weddings and other celebrations to symbolize the bliss and harmony between the newly-married couple.

  • The number 4 is associated with harmony and stability in European culture
  • Peony flowers are arranged in multiples of four
  • Having peony flowers in groups of four brings good luck and prosperity

Color Symbolism

Peonies come in a range of colors, each with its unique symbolic meaning. In European culture, the most popular colors of peony flowers are white, red, and pink. White peonies are associated with purity, innocence, and elegance. Red peonies are associated with passion and love, while pink peonies are associated with romance, happiness, and grace.

Peony flowers have also been used to symbolize social status in European culture. The deeper the color of the peony, the more influential and wealthy the individual is thought to be. In traditional Irish folklore, it was said that powerful fairies lived inside peony flowers, and the deeper the color of the flower, the greater the power of the fairy. Thus, the deeper the color of the peony, the more impressive and influential the person who possesses it is thought to be.

Peony Flower in Literature

Peony flowers have played a significant role in European literature for centuries. In the ancient Greek myth of Paeon, the god of healing, Paeon was transformed into a peony flower by the goddess Aphrodite to protect him from his jealous teacher, Asclepius. In Shakespeare’s play Richard III, the character Lady Anne carries a white peony flower as a symbol of her innocence and purity.

“Peony Flower Meaning and Symbolism”
“Peony Symbolism and Mythology”
“The Symbolism of Flowers: Peonies”

Peony flowers have also been used in French literature to represent the national flower of France. In Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary, there is a chapter titled “The Arrival of the Peonies” where Emma Bovary is filled with joy and excitement upon seeing the arrival of peony flowers in her garden. Peony flowers have become a symbol of France’s national and cultural identity.

The Significance of Peony Flowers in Christian Art

Peony flowers have been a favorite motif in Christian art for centuries. Often used in religious paintings, sculptures, and illuminations, these flowers carry a rich symbolism that reflects the beliefs and values of Christianity. Here are some of the most significant meanings associated with peony flowers in Christian art.

The Number 5

  • The peony flower has five petals, and this number holds a special significance for Christians. According to the Bible, the number 5 represents grace, which is a central idea in Christianity. Grace is the unmerited favor of God, which is given to human beings even though they do not deserve it. This concept of grace is associated with the five wounds of Christ, which represent the sacrifice that Jesus made for humanity.
  • Another interpretation of the number 5 in Christianity is that it represents the five senses. This connection is significant because the peony flower is also associated with physical pleasures, such as beauty and sensual desire. Some Christian artists used peony flowers in their works to explore the tension between earthly pleasures and spiritual fulfillment.
  • In addition to these symbolic meanings, some Christian theologians associate the number 5 with the five books of Moses in the Old Testament. These books, known as the Pentateuch, contain the foundational stories of Judaism and Christianity. The peony flower, with its five petals, can thus be seen as a reminder of the sacred texts that underlie Christian belief.

Overall, the number 5 is a significant element in the symbolic meaning of peony flowers in Christian art. Whether seen as a representation of grace, the senses, or the Pentateuch, this number adds depth and complexity to the use of peony flowers in religious imagery.

Peony as a Symbol of Femininity and Beauty

Peonies are often associated with femininity and beauty. Their large, delicate blooms and soft colors make them a popular choice in wedding bouquets and other romantic arrangements. But beyond their physical aesthetics, peonies also have deeper symbolic meanings that tap into notions of femininity and beauty.

  • One of the most significant ways that peonies are linked to femininity is through their association with goddesses. In Greek mythology, peonies were named after Paeon, the physician of the gods. In Chinese culture, peonies are often tied to the goddess Guanyin, who is revered as the embodiment of compassion and beauty.
  • Peonies are also often seen as a symbol of beauty. In ancient China, they were so highly prized that they became known as the “king of flowers.” Even today, peonies are valued for their stunning appearance and are commonly used in gardens and floral arrangements.
  • Peonies can also represent love and romance. In the language of flowers, peonies are often associated with deep affection and passion, making them a popular choice for wedding bouquets and other expressions of love.

Interestingly, the number of peony blooms can also hold symbolic significance.

In Chinese culture, the number 6 is particularly significant when it comes to peonies. This is because the Chinese word for “peony” sounds similar to the word for success and good fortune. The number 6 is also associated with good luck and prosperity, which is why many peony arrangements will feature exactly 6 blooms.

Number of Peony BloomsMeaning
1Unique, rare, and special
2Love, partnership, and balance
3Good luck, wealth, and prosperity
4Stability and security
6Good luck and prosperity
8Success and wealth
9Longevity and harmony

Overall, peonies have come to represent various aspects of femininity and beauty, whether through their connection to goddesses, their physical appearance, or their symbolic meanings. And with the different significances that each number of blooms holds, peonies can be a meaningful choice for many types of occasions and expressions.

Peony Flowers and Romance

Peony flowers have long been associated with love and romance. Their beautiful blooms have decorated wedding ceremonies, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day bouquets for centuries. Here are some of the ways peony flowers symbolize romance:

  • Marriage and commitment: Peonies have been known to represent a happy marriage and lasting commitment. They are often included in wedding bouquets as a symbol of love, honor, and prosperity. In fact, in some cultures, it is believed that placing a peony flower under your pillow can bring about dreams of your future spouse.
  • Passion and desire: The vibrant colors of peony flowers, especially the deep red varieties, symbolize passion and desire. They are believed to stir up emotions of romance and love.
  • Femininity: Peony flowers are often associated with femininity, beauty, and grace. Their delicate blooms and soft colors are reminiscent of a lover’s touch.

Additionally, different colors of peony flowers hold their own meanings when it comes to love and romance. Take a look at this table:

RedPassion, desire, and love
PinkRomance, affection, and happiness
WhiteMarriage, honor, and new beginnings

No matter the color, peony flowers make a perfect gift for someone you love or as a special touch to your own romantic gesture. Their luxurious and stunning blooms will surely show your love and devotion.

Peony Flowers in Literature and Poetry

Peonies have captivated the hearts of poets, writers, and artists for centuries. These delicate and sensual blossoms are an eternal source of inspiration for those who seek beauty and harmony. From ancient Chinese literature to modern American poetry, peonies have served as a symbol of love, honor, wealth, and beauty.

  • In “The Peony Pavilion,” a famous Chinese play from the 16th century, the peony is a recurring theme that represents female beauty and virtue. The main character, Du Liniang, is often associated with the peony flower, which symbolizes her purity, grace, and strength.
  • William Shakespeare, the greatest playwright in English literature, mentions peonies in several of his works. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Titania, the queen of the fairies, adorns herself with peonies to seduce Bottom, a mortal transformed into an ass. In “Henry VI,” peonies symbolize nobility and power, as they are the heraldic emblem of the House of Lancaster.
  • Emily Dickinson, the iconic American poet, wrote several poems about peonies, in which she explores their beauty, fragility, and mystery. In one of her most famous poems, “It’s all I have to bring today,” she compares the peony to a precious gift that she offers to her beloved. The peony, in this context, symbolizes her feelings of love and devotion.

But what do peonies actually symbolize in literature and poetry? The answer is not straightforward, as peonies can carry different meanings depending on the cultural context and the literary genre. However, some common themes and motifs emerge when we analyze the use of peonies in various works of literature and poetry.

For instance, peonies often connote femininity and sensuality, as they have a soft and velvety texture, a delicate scent, and a voluptuous shape. In many poems and plays, the peony is associated with the ideal of female beauty and grace, which can also imply fragility and vulnerability. Moreover, peonies can symbolize prosperity and good fortune, as they were highly valued in ancient China and Japan, where they were considered a sign of wealth and luxury.

To better understand how peonies are used in literature and poetry, let’s take a closer look at some examples:

AuthorWorkPeony Symbolism
Li Qingzhao“A Record in Gold” (13th century Chinese poetry)Female beauty, love, sorrow, longing
Gertrude Stein“Tender Buttons” (20th century American poetry)Sensuality, desire, ambiguity
Langston Hughes“Negro” (20th century American poetry)Oppression, struggle, resistance

As we can see from this table, different authors and works use peonies in different ways, depending on their cultural and historical background, their artistic style, and their thematic concerns. However, what remains constant is the beauty and allure of the peony, and its ability to evoke complex emotions and associations in the human mind.

Whether we read a poem, watch a play, or admire a painting, we can always find peonies blooming somewhere, reminding us of the eternal cycle of life and death, of beauty and decay, and of the human quest for meaning and transcendence.

Peony Flower Color Symbolism

Peony flowers have been prized for their beauty and symbolism for centuries. Different colors of peonies convey different meanings and emotions. Understanding the significance of these colors can help you choose the perfect peony for your special occasions.

The Number 9

The number 9 is considered very important in Chinese culture and is often associated with luck and fortune. The peony, being a Chinese flower, also has its own symbolism when it comes to the number 9.

  • Nine peonies: This arrangement is considered to be the luckiest of all floral arrangements as it symbolizes wealth, fortune, and prosperity. It is often given as a gift to convey wishes of good luck and success.
  • Nine petals: Peonies with nine petals are believed to be the most auspicious and considered a good omen. They are also associated with long life and good health, making them a popular choice for traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Flowering in the ninth lunar month: Peonies that bloom in September (the ninth lunar month) are considered to be the most beautiful and hold the most significance. This is because it is believed that the peony’s beauty reaches its peak during this month.
Number of PeoniesSymbolism
NineWealth, fortune, prosperity
Nine petalsAuspicious, long life, good health
Flowering in the ninth lunar monthMost beautiful, significant

Understanding the symbolism of peony colors and numbers can add an extra layer of meaning to your floral gifts or arrangements. Whether you choose to give nine peonies for luck or select a bouquet with a specific color to convey your emotions, peonies can be a wonderful way to express your feelings.

Peony Flower Tattoo Symbolism

Peony flowers have been a popular tattoo design for centuries due to their beauty and symbolic meanings. In general, peony tattoos represent wealth, luck, and prosperity. They are also associated with feminine beauty, grace, and love.

  • Number 10: The number 10 is often incorporated into peony flower tattoo designs to represent perfection and completeness. This is because the peony flower has 10 petals, which are said to represent the 10 virtues of Confucianism.

Peony tattoos are also a popular choice for those looking for a more specific meaning. Here are some of the most common peony flower tattoo symbolisms:

  • Beauty: Peony flowers are often associated with feminine beauty and grace.
  • Love: The peony flower also symbolizes a deep and abiding love between two people.
  • Good Fortune: The Chinese believe that peonies bring good fortune and prosperity to those who possess them.
  • Honor: In Japanese culture, peonies are a symbol of honor and bravery. Samurai warriors often had peony tattoos to represent their courage and strength.
  • Independence: In some cultures, peonies are seen as a symbol of independence and self-reliance.

If you are interested in getting a peony flower tattoo, it is important to work with a reputable tattoo artist who can help you design a tattoo that has personal meaning to you. With their intricate beauty and deep symbolic meanings, peony flower tattoos are truly timeless works of art.

Whether you are looking for a tattoo that represents love, luck, beauty, or independence, the peony flower is a beautiful and meaningful symbol that has been used for centuries. By incorporating the number 10 into your tattoo design, you can add an extra layer of symbolism that represents perfection and completeness.

Peony Flower SymbolismTattoo Meaning
Wealth and prosperityA tattoo design that includes gold or other riches
Beauty and graceA tattoo design that shows the peony flower in full bloom
Love and RomanceA tattoo design that includes hearts or other romantic symbols
Good fortune and luckA tattoo design that includes lucky symbols or charms
Honor and braveryA tattoo design that includes samurai or other symbols of honor or bravery

Overall, the peony flower tattoo is a beautiful and meaningful symbol that can represent a wide range of emotions and ideas. By incorporating the number 10 into your tattoo design, you can add an extra layer of symbolism that represents perfection and completeness.

What Do Peony Flowers Symbolize?

Q1. What is the meaning of peony flowers?
Peony flowers symbolize prosperity, romance and good fortune. It represents riches, and honor.

Q2. What is the cultural significance of peony flowers?
In China, peony flowers have been regarded as the national flower. It symbolizes elegance and wealth. It is also known as the “Queen of Flowers.”

Q3. What does the color of peony flowers signify?
The colors of peony flowers carry different meanings. For instance, a pink peony flower represents compassion and romance, while a white peony symbolizes purity and innocence.

Q4. What is the significance of peony flowers in Japanese culture?
Peony flowers are known as a symbol of bravery and honor in Japan. It is also known to symbolize good fortune, especially for newlyweds.

Q5. What is the role of peony flowers in weddings?
Peony flowers are used as decoration during weddings. It represents a happy marriage and good fortune. In addition, it signifies prosperity and romance.

Q6. What is the importance of peony flowers in art?
Peony flowers are a popular subject in art. It represents wealth, prosperity and luxury. Moreover, it is commonly depicted in Chinese paintings and other artworks.

Q7. What is the symbolism of a peony tattoo?
A peony tattoo represents prosperity, beauty, and good fortune. It is a common choice as a tattoo design because of its symbolism.

Closing Title: Thank You for Reading!

Peony flowers are more than just beautiful blooms. They represent various meanings such as good fortune, wealth and prosperity. The cultural significance and role of peony flowers in happiness and love, especially for newlyweds are undeniable. The different colors of peony flowers also have their own significance, always look out for the colors when you want to buy a peony flower. The beauty and symbolism of peony flowers have made it a popular choice for decoration in arts, such as paintings. We hope you had a great time reading this article about “what do peony flowers symbolize.” Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please come back again soon!