Biznagas - Malaga's traditional jasmine flower arrangements

Biznaga video

 

The Biznaga is so much more than a floral design. Its a tradition. A tradition that is unique to Malaga and often referred to as the Biznagas Malagueñas. 

A Gift from God

The word Biznaga comes from Arabic and means “a gift from God.” 

Malaga’s mild climate has meant that the jasmine flower has thrived ever since the Moors first introduced jasmine hundreds of years ago. 

The handcrafted bouquet of jasmine flowers are associated with long hot summers and the strong jasmine summery smell seems to be omnipresent throughout Malaga’s streets. Unsurprisingly, the Biznaga has inspired many a love story and poem.

The making of a Biznaga 

The making of a Biznaga requires skill and patience. 

The process is often started a couple of months before the jasmine starts flowering. It is made up of two sections. The stem and the ‘flower’. The “flower” being a series of jasmine flowers that are sewn together to form one large explosion of flowers. 

The frame of the Biznaga is made up of dried wild thistle. The thistle is often picked a couple of months beforehand. Once it has dried out completely, all thorns and branches are stripped back until only the skeleton remains. 

They start early, picking the still unopened jasmine flowers while temperatures are cooler and the flowers haven’t opened yet. Jasmine flowers are far easier to manage while still closed. Each individual flower is then placed into the thistle head. A typical Biznaga is comprised of some 50-60 individual jasmine flowers. 

Once completed the individual Biznagas are carefully pushed into a piece of fleshy cactus which enables the vendors to carry around large numbers of the flowers without damaging them. 

The flowers slowly open throughout the day, releasing that distinctive jasmine smell. 

The process is far harder and more time-consuming than it looks, it often involves the whole family. As with everything in Andalucia the making of Biznaga’s is first and foremost a social and fun occasion. 

There are three common varieties of jasmine flower in Malaga; white, pink and yellow. The best known in Andalucia is the Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) with white flowers that give off an extraordinarily sweet aroma.  

Amongst numerous other properties, jasmine is said to calm the nervous system, so it is good for jangled nerves, headaches and insomnia. Its also acts as a natural mosquito repellent and is reputed to be a strong aphrodisiac. 

The Biznagueros

The Biznaga vendors are known as Biznagueros. Traditionally,the Biznagueros wear a 'uniform' consisting of a white shirt with black trousers and a red waistband. 

And they don't come much more traditional than Manuel Guillén. A man with Biznagas in his blood, having inherited the tradition from his father and one he has worked in for over twenty years. Manuel is a regular feature on Malaga's Calle Larios.

The price of an individual Biznaga varies, but is usually between 2€ and 4€. 

Part of Malaga's identity

The Biznaga plays a central part in Malaga's identity. 

The "Biznaga de Oro," (the Golden Biznaga) is the most sought after prize in Malaga's yearly film festival, the "Festival de Cine Español de Málaga."

One of Spain's most renowned sculptors, Jaime Pimentel, has forever immortalised the Biznaguero with a beautiful statue in the gardens of Pedro Luis Alsonso.

Buying a Biznaga is something that is not to be missed during your next holiday to Malaga.

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