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Suri, the Persian rose
Or Surrey, Scientology's headquarters?

Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD
April 21, 2006

On April 19 actress Katie Holmes, who is engaged to movie actor Tom Cruise, gave birth to the couple's first girl who was named Suri. The name may have different meanings:

1. Cleveland Evans, president of American Name Society, told the reporters that the baby girl Cruise's name was so obscure that it didn't make it into his book. Evans’s book, “The Great Big Book of Baby Names” includes of roughly 10,000 names. But he did find “Suri” in The Complete Book of Muslim and Persian Names where it was defined as "a beautiful red rose".

2.  According to the statement published by Cruise's publicist, Suri would also have an association to Sarah, which is Hebrew for princess.

Suri as a flower in Persian Culture is actually one of the members of Rose family and most Iranians call it as Gol-e-Mohammadi. Its scientific botanical name is Rosa damascena Mill (RDM). On the basis of various documents, the flower was firstly originated in Iran and it was possibly called simply as Rose. It is speculated that after Iran became a part of Muslim world, the Arab invaders became familiar with the rose and they introduced it to the gardens located in Damascus in Syria (in Persian: Suri-eh). Later, the Westerners called it as Rosa damascene (a part of scientific name) and Suri (as a local name).

Hurst et al in studying on Rose family explained the Persian origin of the flower and he referred to RDM as well as to some other varieties. In their “Notes on the Origin of  the Moss-Rose”, the researchers wrote,

Notwithstanding these records we are inclined to believe that the Rose has been cultivated in the fields and gardens of Asia from time immemorial, and that its native country can only be surmised. The fact of its sterility suggests an origin under cultivation, and it is worthy of note that R. centifolia L, does not "stool" so freely as R. gallica L., nor does it root so well from cuttings and layers as R. damascena Mill, so that its chances of survival and increase in a wild state would be very small. The fact that the habitats given are on the borders of or in Persia is also significant, for Persia is a country which has been famous for its fragrant Roses from the earliest times.

Fluckiger (1862) refers to a Persian document in the National Library in Paris which states that in the year 810, the province of Fars was required to pay an annual tribute of 30,000 bottles of Rose-water (in Persian: Golaab) to the Treasury of Baghdad. The most important cultivations of Roses for distilling Rose water were near Shiraz, and are "even to this day" (Fluckiger, 1883). Lindley (1820) in commenting on the celebrated Roses of Shiraz, praised so enthusiastically by Kaempfer (1712) suggests that the Rose of Shiraz may be the Cabbage-Rose (a. centifolia L.) or possibly R. damascena Mill.

It was at Shiraz that one of the masterpieces of the Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam was transcribed in 1460. The immortal Persian poet and philosopher, who flourished in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, was a passionate lover of the Rose, as well of the Wine, and red, white, yellow and flesh-colored Roses are referred to in the Rubaiyyat. It is related by Fitz Gerald (1859) that one day in a garden Omar Khayyam said to one of his pupils that his tomb shall be in a spot where the North wind may scatter Roses over it, and it was so, for on his grave at Naishabur a Rose tree was planted.

In Persian literature, Suri flower (in Persian: Gol-e-Suri) has been also called as Gol-e-Nowruz (New Day Flower).  Manouchehri Damghani, the famous Iranian poet of 11 th century, refers to Suri as it appears when Iranian NewYear (Nowruz) arrives: Here is his poem in Persian:

Aamad Nowruz maah baa Gol-e-Suri beham.
Baadeh-e-Suri beggir, bar Gol-e-Suri becham.

In present-day Iran, Suri or Gol-e-Mohammadi is mainly cultivated in the central province of Esfahan (Isfahan). Other important cultivation sites of the flower are known to be in Shiraz, Kerman, Kashan, Golpayehgaan, and Natanz!

It should be noted if the name of Tom Cruise’s daughter spells as Surrey that would be a town in South East of England where Lafayette Ron Hubbard's home was and where the Scientology's headquarters is built. Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (1911-1986), better known as L. Ron Hubbard, was a prolific American author and founder of the controversial Church of Scientology. In addition to the books on Scientology, he wrote science fiction, business management texts, essays, and poetry. Tom cruise is known to be a member of the Church of Scientology.

In addition to the Surrey as a county town in England, Surrey was the surname of a British Poet, Henry Howard Surrey who with Thomas Wyatt introduced French and Italian forms into English verse. Surrey was also a late 19 th century four-wheeled two-seated carriage used in the United Kingdom.

-- Hurst, D.L., J.P., F.L.S., and Mabel S. G. Breeze, B.Sc. (1922):  “Notes on the Origin of the Moss-Rose”, J. Royal Horti’l Soc., Vol. XLVII.
-- Jaami, M. (2005): Online Article on “Some Leaves of Flower History”, Keyword: Gol-e-Suri (in Persian).
-- The New Lexicon Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language (1988): Canadian Edition, Lexicon Publications, Inc., New York.
-- Various News Sources (2006): Latest News on Suri, the new daughter of Tom Cruise.
-- Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2006): Online Article on "Hubbard", Keyword: L. Ron Hubbard.

More:  Suri or “Gol-e-Mohammadi”, Persian text.

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Manouchehr Saadat Noury

Manouchehr Saadat Noury


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