5. Place of Origin of Benibana (紅花の原産地)
At present, when call a "flower", it usually means a "cherry blossom". But once it was a "benibana". "Benibana" bears the relation with "a flower garden" "a flower gathering" and other manners to treat flowers.
Benibana is a composite plant and its origin is said in the coast of the Mediterranean Sea or in Egypt. It has a character of a winter hardy plant and its height is one meter or so. It bears a pretty and bright yellow flower like a thistle at the beginning of July.
What route did this flower take to reach this country from the origin place, then? In the famous Chinese book "Seiiki Monogatari" (『西域物語』), the following line can be found: "Twenty-two hundred years ago, a Choken (張騫) brought back the seeds when he visited the Central Asia". He was sent for by Butei (武帝) as a delegation of Kan (漢) in 139 B.C. from Choan (長安). Butei was ambitious to invade the Kyodo (匈奴) in the combined operation with Daigesshi (大月氏). Choken was unfortunately captured by the Kyodo's army. But he was so strong enough to escape by himself and to come back to Choan.
This story tells us that he was a great man and the truth is that the prevalence of growing of this flower depended on the many people who were living along the long Silk Road.
The silk produced in China charmed the European people and it was brought there via the Silk Road. And benibana also was brought to China from the West to the East along the same road of silk conveyance.
Benibana, trailing of culture to eastward, was prevailed to India via the Central Asia and in the days of Empress Suiko (推古天皇 <593-629> ), it was transported to this country with other Chinese cultures.