The Burmese And Nawarat
Everyone who is not familiar with Burma, it’s culture and history will certainly look quite puzzled when being asked for the meaning of ‘Nawarat’ and will surely ask himself what on earth Nawarat means or is. How could he (or she) possibly know?
So, what is this mysterious Nawarat (occasionally spelled Navarat) and what is it all about? Are you puzzled now? You sure are. Well, do not worry, this article will shed light on the myth and mystery of Nawarat and in a few minutes from now you will know the answer to the question what it is.
Nawarat is all about power, wealth, glory, grandeur and resplendence, accomplishment and fulfilment, about health and vigour, strength and vitality, calm and tranquillity as well as love and affection. But first and foremost it is about power in the widest sense of this term. And as much as it is about all of these things it is about occultism (Latin ‘occultare’, meaning ‘secret’ and ‘occultere’, meaning ‘hide’ or ‘conceal’) and about superstition (Latin ‘super’, meaning ‘over’ and ‘stare’, meaning ‘to stand’). In other words, Nawarat is about the in Burma widely held belief in unseen and unknown forces of supernatural influences – especially with respect to bringing good and bad luck – and in the efficacy of various practices such as astrology that is regarded as hidden knowledge of the universe and its mysterious forces.
At this point in time you will certainly think, fine, now I have got a pretty good idea of what Nawarat is all about but I still do not know what exactly it is. For starters, ‘Nawarat’ is an amulet or charm in the form of a piece of jewellery that as the Burmese people deeply believe has magical powers; thus can ward off evil and danger and give power, wealth, health, glory, etc. Briefly put, the Nawarat is a ring that is worn for protection and good fortune.
The ring is made of gold and comprises seven jewels, one coral and one pearl – altogether nine pieces – for which reason it is called in Burmese ‘Nawarat Koe Par’ or in English ‘Nine Jewelled Ring’.
Nowadays almost every jewel store in Burma is offering these rings (even cheap copies are available) and everyone who is interested in buying a Nawarat ring and can afford it can do this. But then again, he must strongly believe in the Nawarat ring’s mystical powers as the ring itself can – as valuable as it might be in material terms – hardly be called a beauty; in fact, at least to the Westerner’s eye it appears rather trashy and tasteless. Nevertheless, I have met a very, very few ‘Westerners’ – even women were amongst them – who have bought cheaper versions of Nawarat rings. I suspect their ulterior motive was to make themselves interesting back home because they would certainly be asked what this in western countries very unusual ring is all about what, in turn, offers a good opportunity to tell interesting stories and become the centre of attention.
That women are wearing the Nawarat and that it is nowadays offered also as pendant is absolutely not in keeping with tradition as only men are wearing the Nawarat and only as a ring. Be that as it may, let us now take a serious and closer look at the age old tradition (which plays an eminent part) of the ‘Nawarat’, the individual components of the ring, its design and the ways it is worn and made as all of these details are of vital importance for the Nawarat Koe Par to function properly, i.e. to gain and reliably exert its magical powers.
The tradition of Nawarat Koe Par goes far back in Burma’s, present-day Myanmar’s, ancient history; the times in which only Kings, members of royal families and companions of and advisors to Kings and Queens were allowed to possess and wear a Nawarat Koe Par. Common people were apart from the fact that they did usually not have the financial means needed for such a precious and valuable ring not allowed to posses and wear a Nawarat. They faced heavy penalties in case they should not strictly adhere by this royal edict. This edict was a protective measure taken by kings and queens that was deeply rooted in their belief in and reverence to the supernatural as well as their fear of it. Nothing was allowed that according to their belief was capable of endangering their almighty position. People were, by the by, put to death for much lesser ‘wrongdoings’.
Since ancient times gems are classified in ‘warm’ and ‘cold’ stones and are by those who are superstitious (Friday the 13th, broken mirrors and the black cat may serve as examples) globally thought to possess supernatural qualities and the capability to protect from harm. Also, it is traditionally believed that certain gems go particularly well together with people born in a specific month or under a specific sign of zodiac as the respective gem and person are said to have matching characteristics. Illustrative of this is the ‘birthstone’. A birthstone is any of various gems associated with the particular sign of zodiac or calendar months of the year that is believed to bring luck to the person(s) being born in those months or under those signs.
These birthstones, months and symbolic meanings are: January, garnet (constancy), February, amethyst (sincerity), March, aquamarine or bloodstone (courage), April, diamond (innocence), May, emerald (love, success), June, pearl or alexandrite or moonstone (health, longevity), July, ruby (contentment), August, peridot or sardonyx (married happiness), September, Sapphire (clear thinking), October, opal or tourmaline (hope), November, topaz (fidelity) and December, turquoise or zircon (prosperity).
Concerning design and style too, tradition plays usually an important role and changes are inevitable and normal. A specific design or style expresses a specific spirit of the age. In other words, it stands for a certain epoch. And jewellery design and style is no exception to the rule. However, with the Nawarat Koe Par this is not so. As for this ring absolutely nothing has ever changed.
All along style, design, materials employed and method of making have remained absolutely the same. The gems are arranged circular with the red ruby always being the biggest of them at the centre. This is of immense importance for the ring as it can otherwise not unfold its magical powers. In case you are entertaining the idea of buying a Navarat Koe Par for yourself and try to save when it comes to this important point this is definitely not the right thing to do. Do not forget that your future is at stake. My advice is not to take any chances. The exact position of the individual gem, as well as the pearl and coral is pre-determined and follows an age-old code that has to be strictly adhered by. Only the exact placement and alignment of the gems guarantees maximum mythical power, which can be defined as follows. Ruby (general power), sapphire (love), cat’s eye or zircon, the clear, colourless variety of which is also known as Matura diamond (accomplishment), diamond (glory), emerald (tranquillity), coral (power of leadership), topaz (health), pearl (grandeur) and garnet (strength).
The red ruby, as mentioned previously, has to be the centrepiece; the blue sapphire has to point to the north, the yellow cat’s eye (alternative zircon) to the south, the crystal clear diamond to the east and the green emerald to the west. While the proper place for the pinkish-orange or red coral is the north-east and for the colourless topaz the north-west, the white-silver pearl has to point to the south-east and the red garnet to the south-west. Furthermore it is of vital importance that the gems are placed on the Nawarat Koe Par in such a way that the ‘warm’ emerald points towards the owner’s body and, subsequently, the ‘cold’ diamond away from it to give maximum protection against any danger that may be lurking around the corner. For maximum efficiency of the Nawarat it is also important that it is worn on the left hand that is according to Asian tradition the ‘clean’ hand and that its owner is saying prayers and paying homage to good spirits before putting it on the first time. By no means are these instructions to be taken lightly and/or the order of the setting to be altered for this would inevitably make the ring ineffective; that is, the Nawarat Koe Par would not unfold its magic powers to the full and, would, subsequently, be rather useless with respect to its primary purpose to give protection and bring good luck.
Equally strict rules apply to the making of the ‘Nine Jewelled Ring’, the procedures of which are drawing heavily on occultism. A large number of Burmese goldsmiths are still very familiar with the proper traditional procedures to follow to and abide by while making the ring. Making a Navarat demands on the goldsmith’s part that he properly performs the ceremonies required, that he himself is deeply believing in supernatural powers, that he has a strong astrological connection with the jewels chosen to make the Nawarat Koe Par and that he takes the five Buddhist precepts. These are: not taking any life, not lying, not stealing, not taking intoxicants and not committing adultery on the very day the work on the ring commences.
The correct time to begin with the work on the Nawarat depends on the date of birth (time, day, month and year) of the ring’s wearer-to-be and is thoroughly calculated by a ‘Badin-saya’ (astrologer). Prior to the beginning of the making of the ring prayers made by the goldsmith are as important as it is that he makes light offerings to each individual precious stone, the coral and the pearl all placed on a white and clean cloth. Each of these stones has a unique special power that significantly increases when they are combined. When the auspicious point in time has arrived, work begins; and the time at which the planet corresponding with the respective gem is at its zenith is exactly the time at which the respective stone, the pearl and coral, respectively, has to be set. For this reason the making of a Nawarat Koe Par must be ordered timely as it may take a year or longer even (sometimes many years) for the ring to be finally completed.
This, of course, only goes for the truest of the true believer. You can as mentioned earlier also buy a ready-made Nawarat ring but it is very, very doubtful – to say the least – that in this case the hopes pinned on the ring are justified as they will most likely not be fulfilled.
With regard to the making-process of the ring it is also important that the gems are placed on flower pollen that match in colour the colour of the respective stone when it is set. As to e.g. the ruby this would be Padonmar (lotus) pollen whereas the coral needs to be set on musk lotus and sandalwood. So, if you want to become happy, healthy, wealthy, glorious, powerful, mighty, etc. and nothing has worked so far or if what you are doing does not seem to be sufficient to reach these objectives to your full satisfaction you may try it with getting yourself a Nawarat Koe Par made especially for you. It is provided you have sufficient time, financial means and an unwavering belief in the Nawarat’s magical forces certainly worth a shot.
Ma thi nein bu (you never know).
Gan kaung ba de (Good luck!).