Source: Taw Win Thazin-The Royal Orchid.
Myanmar Calendar is marked by the flowers that bloom each month. The new year of the Myanmar Calendar begins in Tagu, approximately April, and the flowers which characterize each month beginning with the first are:- “The Gangaw, Shwe Saga and the delicate silvery Sabai,
But of all the many flowers that bloom in our land and fill it with fragrance, the thazin is queen. It is THE royal flower, hence the name ” taw win thazin”.
There are about 2,000 species of thazin, this most delicate of orchids, and their distribution covers South-East Asia, America and Africa. There are over 200 sub-species and the thazin so treasured in Myanmar is the Bulbophyllum auricomum.
The thazin has enjoyed a place of honour in Myanmar since ancient times. Because it grows and flourishes on the higher branches of tall trees on mountains, in gorges and deep forest mostly uncontaminated by human habitation, it is considered a “thant sin pan”, that is a flower of purity. Some call it the “nat pwes” , a royal celestial flower of purity. Some call it the “nat pwes”, ceremonies and festivals held in honour of the spirit beings in the Myanmar month of “Nattaw”, around December and January. The tiny flowers on the pliant stalk are also described as “pin sint pyan pan” the flowers wich fly high on treetops, and sometimes as “pan puan Bayin”, the monarch of the aerial flowers.
The thazin has stirred the hearts and imagination of poets and writers throughout the ages and many a verse has been written extolling the beauty and purity of this tiny gem of a flower . But none can hope to touch the lyrical beauty of the ode to the thazin by Shwe Taik Soe U Toe in his epic poem the “Rama Rakan” (Ramayana Epic). There is also a classical song of the thazin which was composed by one U Shwe Gan which is traditionally sung during the performance of the Ramayana Drama.
In days of old when Myanmar was a kingdom ruled over by her own monarchs, the foremost blooms of thazin were always first presented to the ruling king in the royal palace. It is said that the flowers picked in the Taungoo region were carefully packed in huge baskets and escorted by Thaing bearers (bearer of a long cane wand with a silken scearf tied to it), one on each side ,
and there was also a couple of Kyaing bearers, (bearers of gold or white umbrellas), again one on either side of the precious cargo. On arrival at the city, the flowers were taken to the ” Pan Khon Daw”, a special flower pavilion for presentation of flowers to the king.
The choicest flowers are of course always first offered to the Lord Buddha. Then the king takes his pick follow by the queen or queens, princes, princesses and the royal countries . After the presentation of the first blooms at court others are then free to obtain the flowers to offer them up in their shrines at home or for their personal adornment. Most Myanmar women like to wear flowers in their hair and they vie with each other to be among the as it was in the yesteryears and the most coveted flower is still the thazin. There are, today, many cultivated orchids and other imported exotic flowers such as the hybrid roses, but the taw win tha – zin is still the top favourite.
In Myanmar , the regions that produce thazin are the mountains and forests of Northern and Southern Shan State, Pyin-Oo -lwin, the Taungoo and Mawlamyaing regions and the mountains of Rakhine State. But thazin can also be home grown. Previously, thazin lovers had to depend on the “thitkhwa mokehso” , orchid hunder, for the flowers is there, capital investment is low and the returns are considerable.
So what manner of flower is this thazin with sends romantic souls into raptures? It consists of a graceful flower stalk of about 25 centimeters on which bloom a series of miniature but perfectly formed flowers of white and gold. The size of the flower is just about 9 millimeters, yet it possesses all the features of an orchid-3 sepals and three petals, of which one is a labellum or a lip.
A spray of thazin is worn in a chignon at the neck or in a traditional Myanmar ‘sadon’, that is a cylindrical tube of hair on the top of the head for formal occasions. Several sprays falling together with the cascade of the ‘sameik’ or long tresses of hair falling from the side of the sadon knot is another traditional fashion. Modern girls were sprays of thazin behind the ear in their long smooth blue black hair which falls free to at least waist level. But whatever the fashion, the thazin is the flower most sought after, especially by the fairer sex and the opposite sex find it most alluring.
So, the thazin is treasured as a symbol of royalty and purity, but above all, for its simple and dainty perfaction of beauty and elegance.
The Myanmar people, irrespective of sex and age, have a great love and appreciation of flowers. Our green and land verdant land which produces flowers of all varieties and colours has natured this love. There are flowers for every season and every occasion and they have part of our very culture and traditions. The flowers of Myanmar have been part of our very culture and traditions. The flowers of Myanmar have been idealized and praised in verse, prose and song and Myanmar artists, since time immemorial, have tried to capture the beauty of our flowers in paintings, Wood carvings, stucco and stone.
The flower of April is Gangaw, the bloom with its waxy petals, which dot the leaves of the India wood tree. The golden champac (magnolia) lends its charms to May. The fragrance of the silvery jasmine, Sabai, is wafted along by the zephyrs of June, followed by the scent of the Spanish jasmine in July. The Khatta, land lily, lends its beauty in August and September is graced by the gold of the Yinn Mar, flower of a tawny hardwood tree. In October, with the festival of ponds and lakes under the sun, moon and stars and the bright yellow of Khawei adds to the clear blue skies of November. Then mists cover the land in December and is greeted by the Khwar tan, clematis, of January. Comes February with its showy clusters of red flowers of the parrot tree, and March adorned by the feathery
blooms of the le, the silk cotton tree.
Flower thus hold a special significance for us, with each playing a role in our age-old customs and traditions. For example “Thabye” , the Victory flower (leaves like the Laurel and Olive) plays a dominant part on auspicious occasions; sabai or jasmine because of its purity and fragrance is used to garland honoured guests or a young bride and groom to bless them as they embark on the great adventure of life. The gangaw has been adopted as their very own by youths of Yangon university. Then there is the padauk. This flower is the herald of the Myanmar new Year and has had romantic connotations for lovers since Natshinnaung, king of Taungoo and poet of no mean repute, expressed his love and longing to beautify the hair of his beloved Datukalya with the fragrant golden sprigs of padauk , in his love sonnets. The padauk therefore signifies tenderness and romance.
Mysterious Jewels of the Jungle
by Ma Thanegi
Orchids have mesmerized people for centuries and continue to work their enchantment. Like beautiful dryads of mythology, they weave spells with their beauty, and tease their owners with their moods and whims. They bloom if they will, depending on weather, atmosphere and probably sheer willfulness. They flop over and die if they so wish. To grow them is like looking after a bevy of beautiful prima donnas.
The name orchid comes from the Latin orchis, while the Bama name Thit Khwa simply means “Fork of a tree”… where they are most likely to be found. The most loved orchid of Myanmar however is not known by this name: it is Thazin, (Bulbophyllum auricomum) which blooms with tiny white flowers in graceful sprays that grow out of a small, bright-green, pear shaped bulb. Moreover, they are headily fragrant.
Once they used to be so rare that on pain of death no commoner however wealthy was allowed to wear it in the hair. It was only meant for queens and princesses and special envoys had to go deep into the jungles to bring back some with due pomp and ceremony. The best comes from the Rakhine Yoma mountain ranges. Now people grow it easily with bulbs collected from the jungles but even then it is an expensive flower that brides drape around their high chignons. With many exotic orchids available, the fragile purityof Thazin and its light perfume suits the bride as no other flower can.
Common Name The Golden Haired Bulbophyllum – In Burma Ta-zeen-ban
Flower Size 1/5″ [5 mm]
Found in Thailand, Burma, Sumatra and Java in lowland seasonal forests as a miniature to small sized, hot to warm growing epiphyte with 3.8 to 3/4″ spaced, ovoid-oblong pseudobulbs carrying 2 to 3, apical, deciduous, rather thin leaves that are often not present at blooming which is on an arching, basal, to 8 3/4″ [22 cm] long, racemose, many  flowered inflorescence occuring in the late fall and early winter and has fragrant flowers
Synonyms Bulbophyllum foenisecii C.S.P.Parish ex Rchb.f. 1865; Bulbophyllum tripetaloides (Roxb.) Schltr. 1914; Dendrobium tripetaloides Roxb. 1832; Phyllorchis auricoma (Lindl.) Kuntze 1891
References W3 Tropicos, Kew Monocot list , IPNI ; The Orchids of Burma Grant 1895/95; A to Z of SE Asian Orchids O’Byrne 2001; Bulbophyllum and Their Allies Seigerist 2001; Orchid Genera in Thailand VIII Bulbophyllum Thou. Seidenfadden 1990; Orchids of Java Comber 1990; Orchids of Sumatra Comber 2002