CHAPTER 8 - FLEURS OF THE NILE
The period before the kings in Egypt, the pre-dynastic age, is not well preserved, but what is known about it gives us reason to believe that it was one of humanity’s most ancient homelands. We settled there before migrations took us to other lands. The Nile provided abundant resources for our developing societies. However, this area has not always been just one nation. For ages, this early Egypt was known as “the two lands” until it was united. What was two, became one, by the hand of a king. In Egyptian religion, this reconciliation was crucial to their spiritual understandings. And of course, when these people came together, so did their symbols.
The fleur de lis is a dual floral symbol. Its meaning is flower in the quintessential form of the word. Used in times, when humans could barely speak, the fleur de lis is one of our most ancient icons. But it is Egyptian history, and the effects of unification, that makes up the fleur’s meaning entirely. Decoding the fleur-de-lis is necessary to redefine it. When we examine the parts of every fleur closely, we skirt a spell that is thousands of years old.
When Upper and Lower Egypt came together as a country, their symbols, the lotus and papyrus, were fused together as well. The upper petals of the fleur de lis, or the lotus bloom were clasped together with the papyrus clump. Their point of union, the middle of any fleur, is depicted by a bold horizontal line – the clasp. These three elements alone make up a peculiar grammar that explains the fleur de lis, and offers up a new historical narrative, in a creative, new way.
The fleur de lis is a modern version of this ancient symbolism. It is an iteration of the story of lotus and papyrus as they came together under the rule of a divinely ordained Pharaoh. While the fleur de lis’ traditional account places it firmly within the stock of French history, this new, Egyptian definition of the symbol reunites the icon with its true meaning.