November 24, 2007

Victoria Regia


A beautiful Indian girl grew up listening to stories told by her father, the chief of her tribe, about the native legend of the Warrior of the Moon. The Warrior of the Moon was a powerful god who was frightful, but beautiful, and lived in the moon. During her childhood she always watched the moon, remembering the stories her father told her. Eventually she fell deeply in love with the Warrior-God. Her devotion was so great that when she became of age she resisted the advances of potential husbands. Despite encouragement from her father and family she refused to marry, insisting that one day she would meet her true love, the Warrior of the Moon. When the moon was full, she would remain awake watching the sky, trying to see the face of her fantasy lover. Frequently she would run through the jungle, with her arms outstretched, attempting to catch the rays from the moon in order to hold her Warrior-God. However, she was never able to capture the lunar rays, and the great love of her life persisted being an impossible dream.

Her friends and family attempted with all their might to convince her that her Warrior-God was merely an illusion. The years passed but she continued searching for her lover in the rays of the moon, but always failed. However one clear night in which the full moon shined like never before, the young Indian maiden entered the jungle, this time determined to hold the Warrior of the Moon and to keep him for eternity. She arrived at a lake and she saw the reflection of the moon in it. She believed that finally her lover had descended to Earth to bathe in the lake. Convinced she had finally encountered the Warrior-God, she entered the water to find her lover. Unfortunately, the reflection of the moon was only an illusion and she drowned in the lake searching for her imaginary lover.

The Warrior of the Moon, according to the native legend, really did exist, and he grieved for the beautiful Indian girl who had devoted her life to loving him and gave up her life in an attempt to be with him. Without the power to bring her back to life he decided to reincarnate her into an earth-bound star. The Warrior-God changed her into a star of the Amazon waters. This star is the giant flower of the plant that reigns as the queen of all aquatic plant life. In other words, the young Indian girl was transformed into an enormous floating plant, the Victoria Regia, whose large blossoms only open during the night. The native legend says that the Victoria Regia will only fully open her gigantic flowers in all their splendor during a full moon and when the sky is cloudless allowing her to see her true love, the Warrior of the Moon.

The story of the Indian maiden in search of her Warrior of the Moon is only a legend of the Amazon, so I am not sure about these gigantic water lillies blooming only under a full moon and cloudless sky, but now the moon is full, and I hope that they are blooming somewhere, without all the tragic prerequisites.

"The first successful effort to bring the Victoria Regia into bloom in England was in the world-famous botanical gardens of the Duke of Devonshire, at Chatsworth House. Joseph Paxton, the duke's head gardener constructed the great glass house for its accommodation, which took the name of its gorgeous occupant. The idea for the construction of this fairy-like building was derived from a study of the structure of the Victoria's leaf."

WISCONSIN STATE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY
1885, XV, p. 143-146

6 comments:

rockync said...

What a beautiful flower! Is it just me or do the large majority of native legends about beautiful things usually involve some sort of tragedy? LOL

Jan said...

rockync..I think it is because we mere mortals just always have to have an explanation for everything! :)

The Hermit said...

Don't the Greeks tell the same sort of story about Narcissis? Except I think he fell in love with his own reflection in the pool. You know how the Greeks were.

sheoflittlebrain said...

Beautiful flower..interesting legend..sad though..
Very interesting about the construction of the glass building steming from the plant leaf. Does it still exist?

Jan said...

hermit..well,a lot of people fall in love with themselves, and they aren't even Greek! :)

Jan said...

sheoflittlebrain..the original Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936. It was erected to house The Great Exhibition in 1851 in Hyde Park in London, then it was relocated to a wealthier section of London,and was there from 1854 to 1936, when it burned.