Murraya paniculata: a cultural perspective

Murraya paniculata Jack is also called Orange Jessamine (France), Chinese box, Common jasmine orange, Hawaiian mockorange, Jasmine Orange, Orange Jasmine, Chalcas, Satin wood (English), Rosenjasmin (Denmark), Kemuning (Indonesia), Kamuning (Philipine), and Jazmín, Naranjo jazmín (Espanol).

In some countries, Murraya paniculata Jack has an important role as part of human culture. Not only as an ornamental plant but also represents the wisdom for human life through its symbolization. The plant has various functions and uses that make it remains exist from generation to generation. Among in most of its native range such as India, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Murraya paniculata Jack shares similar uses which are known as medicinal plant, wood craft/engraving and furniture material, part of cosmetic ingredients, perfume and traditional ceremonies. While in the introduction areas the plant mostly uses as an ornamental plant, bonsai and hedge. Its enticing fragrance flowers and leaves, glossy evergreen leaves, nice grayish-yellow hard wood are some of appearances that support the reasons people treat this plant special and sacred. While its wide habitat range and easy handling made the distribution vast.

In Indonesia especially in the history of Jogjakarta Sultanate located in Java Island, this plant was considered as part of royal plant that represents the symbol of wisdom. The King always stopped for a while near the plant for contemplation on the way to the palace hall before held a meeting. Among the Javanese people the plant is believed to protect from devil, witchcraft, and bad luck and to bring joyful life and good luck, for this purpose they grow the plant in their garden or yard. The plant also involves in two important cycles of human life which are marriage and death/funeral. It is used in wedding ceremonies as a symbol of praise for the couple in order to have fruitful and joyful life just like the nice fragrance of the flower. It also uses in funeral especially its leaves to be put as a bed for the death body to create pleasant fragrance.

Eventhough the plant has rich of uses, it is not mentioned in the list of economic botany, probably because of its slow growth. While other books consider the plant is a potential provider of timber tree beside essential oil plant. [Agung Nugroho]

Read the Fairy Tale about Kemuning 

~ by giantrangkong on September 29, 2007.

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