Phuang malai

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Phuang malai garlands at various stages of completion
Stalls in Pak Khlong Talat with phuang malai for sale

Phuang malai (พวงมาลัย) are a Thai form of floral garland. They are often given as offerings or kept for good luck.

Origins of Phuang Malai[edit]

There is no written evidence on who first created “Phuang Malai.” The first record of Phuang Malai was found during the reign of King Rama V or Phrabat Somdet Phra Paramintharamaha Chulalongkorn the Great.[1] There was a literary work written by the King called “Royal ceremony in 12 months” พระราชพิธีสิบสองเดือน which contained information about events and ceremonies in the Sukhothai Kingdom. In the 4th month ceremony, it was mentioned that fresh flower garlands were made by the King's chief concubine “Tao Srijulalux” พระมหาเทวีศรีจุฬาลักษณ์.[2] Then, in the Rattanakosin Kingdom the Phuang Malai became an important ornamental object in every ceremony. Every girl in the palace was expected to acquire the skills of making Phuang Malai. Her Majesty the Queen Sripatcharindra สมเด็จพระศรีพัชรินทราบรมราชินีนาถ พระบรมราชชนนีพันปีหลวง invented a wide variety of intricate Phuang Malai patterns.[1]


Phuang Malai Patterns can be divided into six groups.

  1. Creature Malai resembles animals. Flowers are arranged into animal shapes such as mouse, rabbit, squirrel, and gibbon.
  2. Chained Malai is a series of rounded Malai connected together which looks like a chain.
  3. Braided Malai consists of two rounded Malais connected together, decorated with pine-shaped Malai on both ends.
  4. Vine Malai is a series of semicircular Malais arranged in a vine shape.
  5. Laced Malai is a Malai fully decorated by inserting golden and silver laces all over the Malai both inside and out.
  6. Orchid Malai is made only from orchids.[3]


Phuang Malai can also be classified into three categories by use.

  1. Malai Chai Deaw มาลัยชายเดียว is usually used as an offering to show respect. In temples and cemeteries, these Malais can be seen hanging from the hands of Buddhist Monk Statues along with votive candles. Chained Malai and Braided Malai are examples of Malai Chai Deaw.
  2. Malai Song Chai มาลัยสองชาย is usually draped around a person's neck to show importance. In the Thai wedding ceremony, both bride and groom often wear Malai Song Chai.
  3. Malai Chum Rui มาลัยชำร่วย or Souvenir Malai, the smallest form of Malai, is usually given as a souvenir to a large group of people.[4] These Malais are customarily given by a host, for instance, in wedding ceremonies, house-warming ceremonies, birthday parties, and baby shower ceremonies. Creature Malai is one form of Malai Chum Rui.[2] The purpose of Malai Chum Rui is similar to that of Lei (garland) in Hawaiian culture.

In addition to Malai's purpose of offerings, gifts, and souvenirs, Malai has many more functions. It can be used to decorate throne halls and houses. Malai can also be hung on Thai musical instruments to pay respect to the masters of those instruments and for good luck and success in a performance.[1]


  1. ^ a b c กระทรวงศึกษาธิการ. กรมการศึกษานอกโรงเรียน.หนังสือเรียนวิชาช่างดอกไม้สด.การจัดดอกไม้มาลัย(2535)
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ จันทนา สุวรรณมาลี. มาลัย.ประเภทของมาลัย(2533)
  4. ^ มหาวิทยาลัยราชภัฎสวนดุสิต. สถาบันภาษา.ดอกไม้กับวิถีชีวิตของคนไทย.มาลัย(2552)
  • กระทรวงศึกษาธิการ. กรมการศึกษานอกโรงเรียน.หนังสือเรียนวิชาช่างดอกไม้สด.การจัดดอกไม้มาลัย(2535)
  • มหาวิทยาลัยราชภัฎสวนดุสิต. สถาบันภาษา.ดอกไม้กับวิถีชีวิตของคนไทย.มาลัย(2552)
  • จันทนา สุวรรณมาลี. มาลัย.ประเภทของมาลัย(2533)