Monday, September 10, 2012

Making phuang-malai

I have often stopped and admired the (mostly) women making the phuang-malai on Bangkok's streets. They make as they sell so I'd watched some of the process and I knew that they used a piece of metal (it turned out to be a GIGANTIC needle) and they thread the buds onto raffia but that was as far as my knowledge went.

Phuang-malai are purchased for as little as 20 baht (40 pence) for a basic one but more ornate ones can cost up to a 1000 baht (£20.) They are much more than something pretty or to freshen the air. (The jasmine buds smell DIVINE.) They are given as offerings inside temples, on spirit houses and hung inside taxis and at the bow of a boat to make merit to the journey goddess, Mae Yanang. (You can find out more about the garlands here and here.)

Last week, thanks to Attic Studios, I learned to make one.

Lots of buds, including jasmine and roses, a HUMONGOUS needle and considerable patience. The folded banana leaf
stops the buds from falling off the needle. The angle at which you rotate each bud is very important to the finished
effect.

Two lengths make one circle. I told you, LOTS of patience.

The piece of the left is the bit that hides the rafia joins.

I love the flowers above the roses. They couldn't tell me what they are called but they are like teeny weeny little
sculptures. And TA-DAAAA: the finished phuang-malai.

1 comment:

uphilldowndale said...

Stunning, when I went to Hawaii I had a sneaking suspicion that the lei (flower garlands) that seemed to be everywhere, were made in the Singapore, I saw some in a box and it was they way they were packed that reminded me of the 'Singapore orchids' I used to sell in my flower shop. I bought a fab book on Lei as a souvenir of my trip.
http://www.amazon.com/Lei-Aloha-Flower-Hawaii-instructions/dp/0896103757