A scene from the classic Chinese novel, A Dream of Red Mansions – “A drunk Shi Xiangyun asleep amongst a garden of peonies”.
At a birthday party, Xiangyun had too much to drink and wandered off. The maids found her fast asleep on a stool in a pavilion surrounded by peonies. Her head rested on a pillow of peony petals wrapped in a handkerchief and her fan had dropped next to her amongst the peonies. Butterflies lured by the sweet fragrance of the peonies danced excitedly around the flowers. The maids tried to stir her awake and were suitably amused as she began to recite mismatched poem verses haphazardly in her stupor.
The wine is unadulterated for the water is pure… Escort the drunkards home… An auspicious day to meet my friends…
“Wake up for dinner. You will fall ill if you stay out here for too long.” As Xiangyun roused herself, she noticed the many pairs of eyes gaping at her and realized she must have been drunk.
The Chinese peony has been used extensively in Chinese art and literature and has been christened the “flower fairy” or “spring flower fairy”. It is one of the six famous flowers in China and is recognized as an emblem of love.
And so the Chinese poet Zheng Feng writes about the Chinese Valentine’s Day, everywhere is full of ladies and gentlemen,they enjoy their time and fun together,and presenting one another with peonies.