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LEXICON

 

 

dok maijan (ดอกไม้จันทน์)

Thai. Sandalwood flower. Name for artificial flowers (dokmai) made of sandalwood (mai jan). They are used in cremation ceremonies for their fragrance, as it is believed that the fragrance of sandalwood will lead the souls of the deceased to heaven, but also because their name in Thai is reminiscent of a similar word with an auspicious meaning. Though initially used to light the funeral pyre, they are nowadays often just offered symbolically or burned separately at the ceremony, akin to the Chinese ritual of gong de. Originally, they consisted of very thin slices of sandalwood made into flower shapes and used almost exclusively among the elite. When the practice later spread to general public, it led to an enormous demand of the product and due to the scarcity of sandalwood trees, sandalwood flowers are nowadays usually made from another kind of softwood, though they are still referred to as sandalwood flowers. There were seven types of sandalwood flowers used in the royal cremation ceremony of King Rama IX, each with a specific meaning and all made from sandalwood trees taken from Kui Buri National Park in Prachuap Khirikhan Province, were the King spent much of his last days in life. The seven types include the Narcissus (dararat), which signifies honour, bravery and hope; the Rose (kulaab), which is a symbol for true love and loyalty; the Cotton Rose (phuttan), which is analogous to the cycle of life and represents stability and fertility; the White Lily (Lilium candidum), which represents honesty and loyalty; the Orchid, i.e. a symbol of stability, love, and grace; a new kind of Hibiscus known as chabathip, that represents demise and divinity; and the Sleeping Hibiscus (chabanu), which represents the heartfelt condolences of the people and a symbol of all in paying their final tributes to the late King. Coins of the maritime empire of Srivijaya, which were used in trade in the region from approximately the 8th to 13th century AD, bear imprints of quatrefoils, that are also referred to as sandalwood flowers. These coins are hence called sandalwood flower coins.