Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger
than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.
– Derek Walcott
I moved a lot over the years. My very first apartment was a tiny studio in Boston. I only possessed a pull-out sofa, an L shaped desk and a single bed, but to me, it was a special sanctuary of my independence. I still remember using a cardboard box as my night-stand and draping over it a striped pashmina with tassels I had gotten from the Grand Bazaar. It didn’t matter. It was mine and I was home.
Then I moved to a bigger apartment with my boyfriend. Our furniture was mostly used pieces we found on craigslist. Adorning the walls with the pictures we took in photography class, obeying my cultural habits and putting an evil-eye at the entrance, arranging flowers for our mutual desk, I felt so happy. So bohemian.
Three other apartments followed after the big move to New York. What would I have done without Ikea (and my friend Dr. Bucht who was a master at putting the furniture pieces together)? The styles of each apartment naturally changed as I changed, but certain objects loyally followed me all the way to my home in Istanbul, including an antique Kütahya vase I borrowed from my grandmother.
See, by never really having the means to own a legitimate piece of furniture that I actually cherished, I learned very early on that what makes a home personal, inviting and unique is not the big pieces, but the little objects with which we adorn our rooms – a pillow, a painting, a striped pashmina with tassels one got from the Grand Bazaar… Similar to a piece of jewelry’s magical ability to elevate an otherwise generic outfit, one must give love and attention to those little home accessories.
Flowers have that same magic. They have the power to elevate not only our rooms, but also our moods. When we are ill they are there to soothe us, when we are celebrating they are there to cheer us. So naturally one of the most essential home accessories is the water-pot, the pitcher, the bearer of flowers… the vase.
A vase not only carries flowers, but also the universal symbol for the feminine Life Source. Varying from one ancient culture to another – in Egypt, it’s a symbol of eternal life and in China, of harmony; in Celtic tradition it holds the healing waters and in Sumero-Semitic the fertilizing waters of the powerful Great Mother – the alchemical vase always means the place where miracles occur. Like a mother carrying life in her womb, the vase carries the flowers.
So it is no wonder that in the Kabbalah, vase means treasure. In Buddhist tradition, one of the eight auspicious symbols is the ‘vase of inexhaustible treasure’ symbolizing spiritual abundance. As the function of the vase is holding, immersion and flowing, it represents all the nourishing characteristics of the maternal female deities such as the Hindu Shakti, standing for acceptance, fertility and the heart.
Consistent in its symbolism it may be, but the vase is versatile in look and character beyond imagination. Muse to many artists’ masterpieces, it varies so vastly in shape, material and pattern that it makes hunting for one a treat, as the aesthetic of your choice becomes a direct reflection of your personality.
The best kind to get is the one that is strong enough to stand on its own, one you love looking at even without flowers. As Houzz advises, “even if the style in your home is minimal or veers very much towards a particular aesthetic, adding a vase in a totally different style into the mix can inject a bit of life into your look.”