History of Persian Saffron
Due to its unparalleled taste, rarity and numerous health benefits, saffron is considered as one of the costliest spices in the world. Since it cannot be found everywhere but only a handful of places, it has been nicknamed as ‘The red gold’! The cultivation and the use of saffron covers above 3,500 years as people from all over the world are quite fascinated with its bitter-taste, hay-like fragrance along with a little bit metallic notes. Besides Iran, saffron is produced in few other places, but when it comes to its unparalleled flavor, mind-blowing color and mesmerizing quality, no other place can compete to Persian saffron.
Origin of Saffron
Regarding of the use of saffron, one of the oldest historical references comes from Ancient Egypt where it was used as a fragrant and seductive essence by Cleopatra and other Pharaohs. It was also used to make ablution in the sacred places and temples. However, it is also true that Egypt has never had such favorable weather conditions to cultivate the saffron flower. Hence, it can be assumed that the saffron of Egypt could have come from the Persian Empire.
History of Persian Saffron
Today’s Iran was once north-west part of Persian Empire, where saffron-based tints use to be found in their prehistoric paints for illustrating beasts in old cave arts. Later on, the stigmas of “saffron crocus” were used as an ingredient for the remedy and magical potions by the Sumerians. However, it was found that those Sumerians did not produce saffron themselves; rather they stored it from the wild flowers with the belief that the medical properties of saffron would be divinely intervened alone.
Such connections strengthen the concept that saffron was immensely valued as a long-distance trading substance. And it was massively traded even before the glorious era of Crete’s Minoan’s palace culture in the 2nd millennium BC. As per the Hebrew Tanakh, it was revealed that saffron use to be treated as a sweet-fragrant spice around three millennia ago.
The Persian saffron (Crocus sativus ‘Hausknechtii’) used to be cultivated in Isfahan and Derbena around the 10th century BC. Still today, the threads of Persian saffron have been seen interwoven in the ancient royal carpets and funeral shrouds of Persia. The ancient Persian worshippers used to prefer this stuff for their ritual submission to their deities because of its magnificent yellow dye, medicinal and fragrant aspects. Hence, people used to scatter these saffron threads across their beds as well as blend with hot teas as a remedial of short-term melancholy.
History says that Alexander the Great and his army massively used the saffron during their Asian expeditions. The King personally used to sprinkle saffron in the warm bath water with the belief that it would heal his wounds. In fact, the entire forces used to mix saffron in their teas and consumed saffron rice.