As spring approaches, the Málaga film festival takes place. Its emblem? The Biznaga, long a symbol of Málaga. Why is the biznaga emblematic of Málaga and how is it made?
Yes, the biznaga is made; it is not a natural flower but a composite. Made by hand it is a blend of jasmine flowers and dried nerdo stalk. With properties to repel insects, it also provides a gentle scent to hide any less-than-gentile aromas.
Origins of the biznaga
The meaning of biznaga originates from the Arabic period meaning “gift of God”. In bygone eras, it was used as an air freshener and mosquito repellent in summer. Whilst still popular, nowadays it is more for decoration, though as an insect repellent it still has its uses.
Alongside the cenachero, the biznaguero was one of the most popular trades in Málaga. And just like the cenachero, there is a statue dedicated to this specialist trade. When you wander the Pedro Luis Alonso Gardens, look for the bronze statue in homage to this tradition of Málaga life.
During the August Malaga Feria, it is still common to see biznagueros selling their wares all over the city. Indeed, it has been the theme of one of the more recent feria posters.
How a biznaga is made
A biznaga is a composition of jasmine flowers and nerdo stalk, a kind of thistle typical of summer.
The nerdo is harvested in the month of May. The stalk is the support for the ‘flower’. First, the nerdo is dried in the sun, then immersed in water for eight hours to soften the flower.
Next, the stems are cut to create the charactistic biznaga shape. Finally, jasmine flowers, usually Royal Jasmine, are added to make the biznaga.
The process sounds simple, but it takes practice and skill to insert the nerdo stem into the jasmine flower. A trainee biznaguero may take around 15 minutes to create their flower. However, a practiced biznaguero will be able to produce a finished biznaga in around 4 minutes.
Recognising a biznaguero
The biznaguero dresses in the typical folk costume of white shirt, red sash and black trousers. He carries around his creations in a penca. You’ll see each of the stalks standing separately in the penca ‘tray’.
Generally, this a traditinal family trade passed down from generation to generation.
Málaga Film Festival
The biznaga is the award given at the Málaga Film Festival.
For the festival’s top prize, there’s the prestigious Golden Biznaga. Runners-up receive a flower figurine made of silver.