Saffron, a plant from the Iridaceaea family, has a scientific name of Crocus Sativus. References such as Americana Encyclopedia says that this term has been coined from Corycus, aregion located in Cilicia, which is situated in the East
Meditteranean. Some people believe that saffron originated from Median, Iran. In the other hand, some believe that saffron originated in Central Asia, Iran, Turkey and Greece.
Saffron is documented to have been used over a span of 4,000 years in treating about 90 diseases. Pigments of saffron have been discovered in 50,000 year-old representations of pre-historic locations in the northwest part of Iran. While exporting the saffron to several ancient countries, Persians were introducing the properties of saffron to the Chinese, Roman, Greek and Sami ethics which include the Arabs.
In the first to fourth centuries, Iranian taught various methods on how to cultivate saffron to the Islamic countries living at the Mediterranean’s envision. Thus, the first farmers and cultivators of saffron lived at the outskirts of Sham. The saffron’ cultivation became popular in Andelse and North Africa, Vasqaliyeh and Iranian ethics such as BanuTabari and Rostamian. It played a great role in transfer and conveyance of culture of cultivating saffron.
Historical evidences and documentations for the saffron’s history signify that from the ancient times, Iranians were interested in cultivating saffron. They even made use of saffron for ceremonies and feasts and for welcoming pilgrims.
For organizing rituals and rites while decorating and adoring mirrors, silver and golden coins, Iranians were pouring confetti over the heads of brides and grooms along with saffron flowers. In some ceremonies, saffron was smoked with rosewater, ambergris, musk and aloes wood.
During the Achaemenid era, saffron was mainly used in decorating or adoring bread loaves and in cooking foods with aromatic taste. While describing Darius’ biography, Ferdinand Yousti said: “King of Iran was rubbing his body with fragrant oil, comprised of mixture of sunflower oil, which was provided with saffron and date liquor.”
During the Parthian era, the saffron produced in Iran was delivered to Rome and Greece. Later on, China became the major customer of Iranian saffron.
During the Sassanid period, the cultivation of saffron became rampant both in Boun and Qom and the excellence of the product became popular since then. That time, saffron was used in finishing costly papers but before that, the saffron solution was utilized as ink. Since then, saffron was utilized in making high quality inks.
It must be noted that several high and low color saffron inks were utilized for writing motifs at book margins, images, icons, pictures, calligraphy, treatise, head chapters and writing orders, letters of rulers, caliphates and kings.
Most English references claim that saffron was coined from the word Al-Safran, an Arabic terminology. However, the preciseness of this subject seems weird, as saffron dates back to 10,000 years and it is an indigenous plant of Central Asia and Alborz mountain range. In fact, the rhythm of this word is not only Arabic and the majority of names which end in Arabic language to “AN”, have Farsi root such as Jaljahan, Mehraja, etc.
It may also be true that saffron was mainly called zarparan, a flower which stigma is highly valued just like gold. This world was then made “saffron”. In Turkish and Farsi languages, saffron is known as Zefrun, in Arabic, it is known as Zaferan, in the Spanish language, Azafran, in Indian language, it is known as Zuffron, in the Italian language, Zaferano and in the English language, Saffron.