Seasonal Flower of Nat Taw, Thazin (သဇင္)

From the time you set a foot at the airport in Myanmar, you’ll see so many flowers everywhere: Children who try sell flowers to you when you walk by, flower-sellers coming to your taxi, packed flowers for sales at the supermarket, welcome flowers at your hotel. Sure, the three seasons of Myanmar make flowers blooming all year long.

It is not a strange thing that every month of the Myanmar lunar calendar has its own flower. For instance, December is the month of Nat Taw in Myanmar calendar. Dry and sunny days with a cool night started from November (Tazaung Mone), but in Nat Taw days, cool season is in full swing, especially in upper Myanmar and hill regions. In lower Myanmar towns like Yangon, the weather is just comfortable, not too cool nor hot. The month of Nat Taw and the environment during this period favors every flower to bloom. In other words, we can consider Nat Taw as the ‘Month of flowers’.

Among the flowers from each month, let me tell you more about the flower of Nat Taw because it has a very interesting place in Burmese culture. The flower of Nat Taw, which cannot be found throughout the year, is called ‘Thazin’ (သဇင္). It is a rare kind of orchids and there are about 2000 species. But among them, Bulbophyllum auricomum also known as the Golden Haired Bulbophyllum is the one that is so treasured and valued in Myanmar.

Thazin orchid got a place of honour in Myanmar since ancient times because it was considered to have a royal beauty, there where called then ‘taw-win pan:’ (ေတာ္၀င္ပန္း), which is ‘royal flower’. In the times of Burmese kingdom, the royal family and the court only were allowed to wear Thazin flowers in their hair or on their clothes. The flowers grow and flourish on the higher branches of trees in the mountains, and it is therefore often described as ‘pin-myin.-san’ (ပင္ျမင့္စံ) the flower growing on the treetops.

However, most of Myanmar ladies usually wear Thazin (သဇင္) nowadays. They can wear it in their chignon at the neck or in a traditional Myanmar ‘Sadon’ (ဆံထုံး), knotted hair at the top or back of the head. In special occasions like wedding ceremonies, they usually design the strands of Thazin to fall along their Sadon. Ladies in Myanmar believe that wearing Thazin make them perfect in beauty and elegances. It is also seen today as a symbol of purity.

Even Nobel Laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi described about the beauty of Thazin in her book, letters from Burma.
“Tiny exquisite blossoms, parchment colored with golden yellow stamens, drooping from a curve of translucent green stems. For the Burmese, the thazin (သဇင္) is exceedingly romantic, delicate and difficult to nurture, its graceful beauty barely separable from the sharp coolness of the season when it comes into flower.”

Many poems and songs have been written through the ages about the beauty and purity of the flower queen, Thazin. Here is the one of the famous poems about Thazin composed in the time of Burmese Kings.

စိန္ျခဴးၾကာေညာင္၊ လေရာင္ေတြ လင္းပါေပါ့

မွန္ျဖဴျပတင္းရယ္က

မယ္ခုေမွ်ာ္၊ သံုးခ်က္စည္ေတာ္

႐ုိက္ေဆာ္ညွင္းတယ္ေလး

လင္းလုေပါ့ေနာ္။

သဇင္သင္းပါတဲ့ ၊ ခင္းျပန္႔ေပၚ

လာႏုိးငယ္မယ္ေမွ်ာ္လုိ႔

တကုိယ္ေတာ္ထူး၊ ေထြရာစိတ္ကူးပါလုိ႔

ဖူးေရႊလယ္တင္၊ ျဖစ္ေရွးကုန္စင္

ဘ၀င္တံု ေဆြးတယ္ေလး

ေတြးႀကံလုိက္ရင္၊

“The moon sheds silvery light
On my gilt carved couch bright
At the white glass window
I sat upright,
Neglected, forlorn, waiting
through the night
For the arrival of you, my
darling dear,
Now Bahosi clock Drum
Strikes ‘3’ hour
And the dawn is
approaching so near.
But you’ve not shown up,
Why, I fear.”

‘On the Thazin(သဇင္) scented bed stead,
I lie awake, no sleep but
stray thoughts instead
With my frail hand placed on forehead
Fond memories of the past rolling back
Heart felt feelings in me fill to the neck.’ [1]

So, when you have a chance to come and visit or stay in Myanmar, don’t try to find any special gift for your Burmese friends, just prepare royal ‘Thazin’ in romantic or lovely ways and give them in order to express your thanks or as a farewell present. Sure, they will be glad and remember you forever!

Aung Phone Zaw

(1) Konbaung Period (1782-1885 A.D.) composed by Princess Hlaing Hteik Khaung Tin; Translated to English by Sithu Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt