The tulip is a traditional symbol of Tatar culture. The flaming flower of the steppe still has rich meaning for the people of Tatarstan today. Indeed, the symbolic value of the traditional decoration has only increased in the present day, as the tulip is now used in the coat of arms of the Republic of Tatarstan, as well as in the logo of the Kazan Universiade.
The tulip is one of the most popular elements of Tatar ornamentation, found in traditional embroidery, as well as in the décor of houses and mosques.
The wild tulip, a flower native to the vast Central Asian steppes, is the first to bloom after the winter. Tatars thus consider the flower a symbol of renewal and rebirth.
The symbolism of the tulip serves as a rare example of how an element from the pre-Islamic, nomadic era can fit within a new context. With the introduction of Islam in Tatarstan, the floral motif acquired new, sacred connotations.
Known as the “flower of the Most High,” the tulip has since ancient times adorned the walls, windows, and doors of Tatar mosques. The tulip bears such an honored title because the Arabic words for “tulip” and “Allah” utilize the same letters. Furthermore, according to the eastern numerological system Abjad, in which each letter is assigned its own number, the sum of the letters in both “tulip” and “Allah” add up to 66.
Over the centuries, the traditional symbol of the wild steppe has become enriched with new meanings. In addition to religious value, the tulip took on secular interpretations, as a symbol of the desire for great achievements. The coat of arms of the Republic of Tatarstan bears the image of the tulip, indicating the level of its popularity. In 2013, the tulip was chosen as the logo of the Summer Universiade, the university student games hosted in Kazan. The five-color tulip silhouette symbolized striving toward new achievements and goals.