30 September, 2011

Hadhramaut and the Love of Perfumes

Oud
Is there any one who hates perfumes? Almost none.  People always love sweet scents and are attracted by it. On a woman, few things are as enchanting and as mesmerizing as perfumes. In Hadhramout, both men and women love perfumes. Hadhrami women, be they in Hadhramaut or out, love and greatly value perfumes. Especially the oud which are of many varieties and scents. The oud, which Hadhrami women are good connoisseur's in and of. Hadhramis traveled by land or sea, far and wide to other parts of the Middle East, Southern Asia and Eastern Africa, trading and in search of frankincense, myrrh, resin, agarwood and musk: these, which have provided and been the basis of many, if not most, perfumes. Since antiquity and throughout the Old World, the Hadharem, other Arabs and Muslims have contributed most to the perfecting of the making of perfumes and to the art of perfumery.

For the Love of Perfumes
Thinking of perfumes, I can't help thinking of: 'Scent of a Woman' - one of the best movies of all time, of one of the greatest American actors ever, Al Pacino. Fragrances  is part of the movie. The film won many awards including an Oscar for Best Actor for Al Pacino who portrays a blind, alcoholic and retired Lieutenant Colonel. It is uncanny how blind people have such strong perceptions of/for scents and smells; most of them will always remember you by the scent you have or by how smelly you are. Beware of the perfume you wear; people always associate you with, or remember you by, it.

Burberry Sport
The art of making and using perfumes, began in the Middle East, mainly in Egypt and present day Iraq; and was perfected by first the Romans who came to know of perfumes through their conquest of Middle Eastern lands; and later, Arabs and Muslims in general, through their mastery of incense and its trade, perfected and refined fragrances even further. Right from the beginning of Islam, Muslims were obliged to use perfumes and brush their teeth regularly, especially on Fridays. The brushing of the teeth and the use of perfumes and incense, is very much a part of a Muslim's daily life. In Hadhramaut, the scent of fragrances, especially of oud and incense, is in every home.

Estée Lauder Sensuous
The East, especially India, knew of and used perfumes before the birth of Christianity. But, it was not until the 14th Century or so, that Europeans began knowing of and using perfumes. Today, the main center in the world for fragrances, colognes and cosmetics is in Paris, France. Still, for most people in the Middle East, especially in the Arabian Peninsular, the best perfumes come form here; most here, too, prefer oud based fragrances. Like caviar, oud or oudh is rare and precious; it is extracted from the wood of the agar tree. The preference and choice of a perfume, is all a matter of personal taste, and: 'you can't argue with taste'. Prices, too matter; some perfumes are out of reach for most due to their being too expensive. Oud fragrances are rare in the West; but, it is catching up - though, most Europeans and Americans might find oud too Arabian and Eastern for comfort. Note: as the same oud fragrance can be used by both men and women, the bottles are many times not marked as 'For Men' or 'For Women'; but, any oud fragrance bottle with a silver ring at the top/neck is for men and any with a golden ring is for women.

Bond No. 9 New York Oud
For fragrances with oud, try these: a 50ml botle of Pure Oud Eau de Parfum Perfume, by Kilian, which is oud based and can be used by both men and women - can cost about $400; or try a 100ml, about $300, Bond No. 9 New York Oud; or try the cheaper: Oud Intense by Comptoir Sud Pacifique for women, which costs about $50 for a 100ml bottle; or, the very sensuous, enchanting and charming, oud based and fairly priced: Sensuous by Estée Lauder for women; or - for men, the about $30, crisp, woody, aromatic, Burberry Sport; or, the even much cheaper but still aromatic and crisp: Shaik El Oudh, by DERAY, for men. It does not mean that, the more expensive a perfume is, the better it is. Some perfumes cost thousands of Dollars for just a small bottle; some, for the same size of bottle, costs just a few dollars, and yet are good. Which is the world's best perfume? These or, for men: these?

+ History of Perfumes
+ How Perfume Works 
+ Comoros: Perfumes, Spices in Colors
+ Books on Perfumes 
+ Understanding The Perfumery's Jargon
+ Does using perfumes pose a health risk?