The Pineapple

A perfect natural geometry, a complex history and a chequered career, the pineapple motif represents above all, the warmest welcome, friendship and hospitality. It celebrates my welcome to you!

Across time and continents, different cultures have attributed to the pineapple associations which, unexpectedly, are a reminder of what it is to be human: pure in creation, buffeted by life.

To Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the regions of particular focus here, it is a colonial. The earliest botanical evidence of ananas comosus is found in Peru and the lowlands of Brazil. Brought to India by Portuguese traders in the 16th century, at the Moghul court it is recorded by Abu'l Fazl on the table of the emperor Akbar. As the pineapple travelled out of its homeland, into the southern American states, the courts of Europe, spreading across the world to China, it carried prestige - and always welcome - and entered art, architecture and design. It was an object of desire and pleasure.

In its modern diaspora, its reputation has survived cultivation controversies and these sought-after aspects have subsided though are not lost entirely. In their place, the pineapple is continuously and variously being re-centered, elevated from a cash crop into an annual festivity in Manipur to a common regard for its assistance, as bromelein, to digestion and healing of wounds.

Flamboyancy makes spectacular meetings with science and technology. The pineapple, a bromeliad, matures into a single fruit as a cluster of the 1-200 fruitlets belonging to its flowers. They are arranged in perfect mathematical proportion. They exemplify a geometric phenomenon seen frequently in nature, whose constant (phi) identified by the Greek mathematician Euclid became in art, architecture and literary constructs, the concept of Divine Proportion or the Golden Mean. The 'synergetics' of the geodesic dome, colloquially 'pineapple dome', in the architecture of experimental bio-spheres, are among the most recent and debated innovations based on natural symmetry.

The pineapple's properties are a reminder too of philosophical teachings about moderation. The ripe pineapple is sweet and succulent, fiercely guarded by its tough, spiky, tessellated exterior and stiff, sword-like leaves. In moderation, it is a delight; in excess, it burns.

Along the way, the pineapple has acquired different linguistic names inferring its qualities - nana, for example, is fragrance. In English, pine recalls its similar appearance to the pinecone. The pinecone holds a world of cultural use and expression in itself, found in Mesopotamian and classical Greek and Roman art, but that is a subject for another time. The apple too, but here it is a recollection of delicacy.

..... and finally, the motif which I use, is a baby pineapple: small, perfectly formed and expressing growth and happiness. Welcome!