Petola bulat, petola buntal, petola manis or belustru (scientific name: Luffa aegyptica) is a fruit in the category of green vegetables. In English it is known as Luffa or Loofah/Lufah and is a tropical and sub tropical annual creeping plant consisting of the genus Luffa under the Cucurbitaceae family.
This plant by nature loves the sun with oval shaped leaves between 6 to 25cm and 8 to 27cm in length while its stem can be between 5 to 10cm.
The unique feature of this plant is that it consists of two distinct male and female genders growing separately. The male flower grows in bouqet while its female counterpart grows individually. Its fruit is shaped like a smooth cylinder with every single part having its own purpose and function.
The young fruit is harvested as vegetable and when it’s too ripened, the hardened xilem can be used as sponges. Its seeds can be pressed to extract odorless oil while the leftover is either used as food for animals like rabbits and catfish or fertilizer.
When we observe the Luffa’s flower, we will notice its regality and pride as it beautifully blooms at the end of the fruit. Bursting energetically in its full yellow glory we can’t help to associate the flower with the Malay royalty as it appears to be the crown of the plant, the icing on the cake. Yellow with its vibrancy is the official color of the Malay Royals.
In official palace functions, the Sultans and the queens will be seen in yellow and the commoners are not allowed to dress in yellow during these events.
Hence the term ‘mahkota’ is used here as a metaphor of the crown to describe the motif.
Motif Petola Mahkota
Balance and harmony is essential in Malay design principle. The Petola Mahkota motif has two leaves mirroring each other, one on each side. In the center, is the stoic fruit with the flower on top spread out in a fan like head gear or the crown.
The leaves appear to be like two bright, welcoming hands inviting you to experience the wonderful world of the Malay intricate culture. This motif is very suitable to be applied into wood carving medium where the detailings are seen in the little, precise curves, delicate and very fine in nature.
Yet in its gentle, understated grandeur lies its strength and power, gathering the collective energy of the plant, expressing its vibrancy through the warm, bright yellow crown – a state of content, complete monarch without the need to outrule others.
Mekar indah si bunga petola Bagai mahkota dijunjung tinggi Melakar madah kasih dibela Bagai cinta dirisau pergi
Beautiful bloom of the Luffa flowers Like the glorious crown, high above Beautiful room made for lovers Like a nest for fear of losing love