Flora in Myanmar Culture Toddy Palm

Flora in Myanmar Culture Toddy Palm

Flora in Myanmar Culture Toddy Palm
September 12
14:53 2017

Toddy palm is Myanmar native that grows wild or is cultivated in any part of the country. But the dry zones especially Bagan, Pakokku, Monywa, Shwe Bo, Sagaing, Mandalay, Meikhtila and Inwa are the townships and districts where toddy palm groves are seen most. Myanmars call toddy palm “Htan”. Its role in Myanmar history, economics, politics and religions and socio-cultural life is deep and boundless.

Botanically termed caryota urens, its sweet sap of bud, flowers and fruit is consumed as a beverage for healthy refreshment. Sweet sap before noon time is called “htan yay cho” fit for any age. But the sap contained in the earthern pot becomes naturally fermented in the afternoon and it is used as liquor by males. A person drunk with fermented toddy sap will confess that he has stolen a buffaloe ထန္းေရမူး၊ ကၽြဲခုိးေဖာ္, just as an English saying “Music speaks the truth”.

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In Bagan Period of Myanmar history the owner of many groves of toddy palm was a rich man just like the owner of many paddy fields, Stone inscriptions of Bagan mention much about toddy palm. Grooves of toddy palm were given as gift, present, inheritance or religious donation. New toddy palm were grown and cultivated.

One of king Anawrahta’s select hunch men who were raised to paladins, riding at the head of his levies was a toddy climer named Nga Htwe Yu. He could finish the task of gathering the sap of hundreds of toddy palm trees within a day, just of hundreds of toddy palm trees within a day, just by swinging his body like monkey, one to another toddy palm trees.

The sap of toddy palm is boiled down to become a Myanmar natural organic chocolate called in Anglo-Indian word chocolate called in Anglo-Indian word “gugary” or ထန္းလ်က္ in Myanmar. It is used for various purposes-in hot or cold drinks, in medicines and culinary arts, animal food. Farm, transport, and military animals cattle, horses, donkeys and elephants like gagury very much. Gugary is Myanmar traditional food and medicine for a long journey in battle fields.

Not only juice, but also almost all parts of toddy palm are used by Myanmar people for consuming, building, roofing, furniture making, and crafting kitchen utensils. Toddy palm fruits are sweet and delicious. Herbalists recommend them for curing a variety of illments and diseases. Toddy palm stalks are long and hardy. They turn into petrified stone under the sandy scorched earth. Such stones are used in constructing embankments, and fortifications. Toddy palm leaves are good for roofing. They are made into different kinds of furniture, bed, table, easy chair, cot as well as several kitchen utensils and farm tools and implements. Tender roots of toddy palm are eaten with relish by Myanmar people who call them ထန္းပင္ျမစ္

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In visual, performing and literary arts, toddy palm is depicted, performed, and written or composed. Myanmar history and literature are rich in toddy palm. The following is an excerpt of a Tayar Chin song composed by Minister Wungyi Padethayaza of Nyaung Yan Period of Myanmar history. The name of the Tayar Chin was Toddy climer
ထန္းတက္သမား

  1. At the Summer Time the toddy climber with his all equipments climbs toddy trees to extract sap of toddy juices
  2. Cutting all leaves and buds to get sap fresh and sweet. The wife collects pots of sap. calling out children and pet dogs and pigs.
  3. When frightened by human and animal shouts lizards, rabbit, quails, monsters, snakes all jungle creatures come out to be caught by toddy climber’s family. The remaining four stanzas described toddy climbers family returning home, cooked their games with meal placed on a large round lacquered table at which they all sat around and relished the delicious spicy meal. The leftovers are given to pet dogs. You can still see such scene in the countryside of Myanmar today.
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