Carnation, Origin France and Spain. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2022

Joelle McTigue
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The ancestral carnation grew in the Pyrenees along the modern-day border of France and Spain. It evolved into the modern flower around the Mediterranean, particularly in ancient Greek and Roman merchant ports, including the Bay of Kotor.

Greek botanist Theophrastus created the word dianthus to reference Dios (God/Zeus) and anthos (flower), bestowing the binomial Dianthus caryophyllus, which directly translates to Flower of the Gods. Its common English name may derive from the Latin word for a crown (corona) because of its use in ceremonial crowns. And while the linguistic line between Greek and Latin fluctuated between modern-day Montenegro and Greece, the Serbo-Croatian word for carnation (karanfil) is derived from Ottoman Turkish.

Greek and Roman mythology's origin of the flower is from the goddess Artemis/ Diana. After an unsuccessful hunt, she blamed a flute-playing shepherd for scaring off her prey. She gouged his eyes and threw them between stones. As her rage curtailed into regret, the eyes transformed into carnations.

Over centuries, mariners returned to the Mediterranean with seeds and plantlings. In The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor, I examine how the pursuit of empires, trade, legacy, medicine, religion, and aesthetics forged the coastal landscape of the UNESCO protected site.

The bay's naval fleet peaked at 300 ships to protect its prominent salt trade in the Middle Ages. But, its mariner history potentially traces back to the Balkan Bronze Age. Over millennia, great European empires (Roman, Ottoman, Venetian, Napoleon, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian) owned a piece of the Bay of Kotor for strategic and merchant gain.

Present-day, the Bay of Kotor strives for architectural revitalization and preservation while maintaining its wild beauty and traditions. Venice, Italy, continues to finance the restoration of Kotor's Venetian structures. Retired naval facilities around the bay have converted into five-star resorts and marinas welcoming some of the world's largest yachts. At sunset on July 22nd, sailors arrive for the custom known as fašinada, throwing rocks in the sea near Our Lady of the Rocks, a sailor-formed island near Pearst.

The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor collection are manually-manipulated botanical photographs I took within Montenegro's Bay of Kotor. The work emulates stained glass to celebrate these roots of identity and nature through the contemporary window of technology.

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Joelle McTigue
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Joelle McTigue