We asked you three questions about the emblems and symbols of various countries and cities. Here come the answers!
- Can you match the countries in List A with their floral emblems in List B?
- Mexico: iii. Dahlia – native of Mexico and grown by the Aztecs for its edible tubers; it was imported to Europe at the end of the 18th century and named in honour of Swedish botanist Anders Dahl.
- Nepal: ii. Rhododendron – named from the Greek words rhodos (“rose”) and dendron (“tree”). Although there are 1,024 species of rhododendron across North America, Europe and Asia, the greatest centres of diversity are in the south-western Himalayas, which is presumably why Nepal chose it.
- South Korea: v. Rose of Sharon – there are several different species of plant which bear this Biblical name, but the Korean one, Hibiscus syriacus (Korean: mugunghwa, was adopted as a symbol of resistance during Japan’s occupation between 1910 and 1945.
- Thailand: i. Golden shower tree – this popular ornamental tree occurs widely throughout South and South East Asia (it’s also the state emblem of Kerala in SW India). It’s known in Thai as ratchaphruek, or “royal music”.
- Turkey: iv. Tulip – bet you weren’t expecting that, were you? Although the tulip’s widely associated with the Netherlands, it was a symbol of abundance, opulence and even Paradise on earth in the Ottoman Empire. It originated as a cultivated plant in 10th-century Persia.
- In terms of symbolism, which of the cities below is the odd one out and why?
Lions feature in the symbols of all the other cities. Lyon has a white lion on a red field in its coat-of-arms; Jerusalem has a blue lion rampant against a golden wall; Tallinn has three blue lions passant guardant (like the English royal coat-of-arms); Singapore is literally “Lion City”. Edinburgh’s symbol is a castle on a rock.
- Can you match the cities in List A with symbols from their Coat of Arms in List B?
- Madrid: iv. Bear and strawberry tree – despite the name, the strawberry tree has nothing to do with strawberries; the fruit look a bit like them but taste like figs. They ferment if left on the tree, and bears have been known to get drunk by eating the fermented fruit!
- The Hague: i. Stork holding a black eel – storks were symbols of good luck and were encouraged to nest on several official buildings in The Hague, as well as being pinioned and used to keep the fish market clean.
- Leeds: v. Owls and a lamb – the original coat-of-arms had just the lamb in a sling, but owls were later added unofficially as supporters either side of the central shield. Leeds County Borough Council had to ask for them to be authorised in 1920.
- Helsinki: ii. Boat and crown – the boat representing Helsinki’s ties with the sea, the crown its status as a city founded by order of the King of Sweden (in 1550).
- Austin (Texas): iii. Genie’s lamp on a shield – the “genie’s lamp” was adopted in 1919 as a lamp of knowledge symbolising the educational opportunities the city had to offer, notably the University of Texas.
How did you get on? Why not let us know?