The history of saffron goes back many thousands of years. Human cultivation and use of saffron for more than 3,500 years and extends across cultures, continents, and civilizations. The saffron crocus is native to Southwest Asia. It was probably first cultivated in or near Persia. Saffron has a long and colorful history.
In ancient Persia, saffron was used as a brilliant yellow dye, perfume, and a medicine. In India Saffron has been associated with love and magic because of arousing sexual desire. In India dishes which include saffron as an ingredient are often served at weddings. The story of the history of saffron is interwoven with myths.
Persian saffron was heavily used by Alexander the Great and his forces during their Asian campaigns. Alexander personally used saffron sprinkled in warm bath water, taking after Cyrus the Great. Much like Cyrus, he believed it would heal his many wounds. Alexander’s troops copied their leader’s actions and brought the habit of saffron-bathing back to Greece.
In Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt, a little saffron was added to the bath water of the affluent citizens. They believed this was sure to make their skin glow. There was also the extra bonus of improving their love life. Also In ancient Rome, women used saffron to dye their hair and color their apparels in royal yellow. The yellow dye symbolized wealth, status, and royalty among the ancients.
The robes of Buddhist monks are known as saffron colored. Actually to use saffron as a dye for all those robes would cost a small fortune. In reality, turmeric is used to dye the ropes. The color is associated with wisdom and humility. Saffron is one of the official colors of Buddhism. Monks’ robes include the color, and shrine offerings include saffron water.