• Bassma Al Jandaly, Editor In Chief

Antique aroma, Arabian scent

Perfumes, aromas, fragrance and hospitality. Guests, the majlis and gently emit of scent. These are the Emirati way of using perfume or incense to create mood of aroma that is unique to this Gulf country.Perfume has a subconscious effect on memory, it gives an irresistible impact on our mind..The word perfume itself has arrived from the Latin word name “Per fumus” which means through the smoke.

it was believed that Arabic perfume is back in history in the 9th century as it was created by a Scientist used to experiment with various herbs and plants for cosmetics, perfumes and pharmaceuticals. It is also believed that he has come up with a range of secret varieties of fragrances.

The use of bukhoor is as old as history and it is an Islamic tradition linked to the Prophet Mohammad's (Peace Be Upon Him) Hijra from Makkah to Al Madinah, when he was greeted with bukhoor and chants. The Prophet encouraged both men and women to keep themselves and their homes smelling nice and also encouraging them to use use of perfumes before Friday prayers.

Bukhoor, is the name given to scented bricks or a blend of traditional ingredients soaked in fragrant oils and mixed with other organic ingredients such as resin, ambergris, musk, sandalwood and essential oils among others.

Back in history these resins and the small wood sticks were placed over hot ambers in a hand-crafted receptacle often made of brass and used to cleanse, purify and scent an environment. Used more often than not for spiritual pursuits, as the beautiful aroma of traditionally made. Even today, the same original ingredients go into the making of these perfumes.

There are many different kinds of bukhoor used, depending on the occasion and whether it is for a man or woman and Oud is one of the most expensive perfume ingredients in the world. It comes from the wood of the tropical Agar (Aquilaria) tree, believed to have originated in the Assam region of India, and from there spread throughout Southeast Asia. When the wood of this tree becomes infected with a certain mould variety (Phialophora parasitica), it reacts by producing a precious, dark and fragrant resin, giving us the ingredient oud (also called agarwood).

Oud is highly valued by perfumers. Its scent can be described as woody, warm, animalic, leathery and sometimes cheesy. It is usually considered as a base note in fragrance composition.

In the UAE oud and bukhoor can cost Dh10,000 and the oud wood may go up to Dh2 million. It is imported from India and Cambodia.

Bukhoor is when pieces of perfumed processed wood such as oud or sandalwood which are placed on top of a piece of coal in a special, decorated incense burner known as the mabkhara. As the wood burns, strong-scented fumes fill the air. Women use perfumes which are stronger and darker in colour, men use ones which are lighter both in smell and colour. Women use mixtures of amber, musk, henna, saffron, al moukiya and al sandal. Men use sandalwood, rouh, al ward and douhen al oud. Traditionally, perfume-making is done by women only, who mix different ingredients to create strong oils that give a lasting aroma. Extracts from plants and flowers such as jasmine, narcissus and lilies are also commonly used in perfume-making. Some women like to make their own perfumes by mixing various ingredients and drying them in the form of small disc-like tablets. These are called dukhoon and produce a pleasant fragrance.

Another kind of perfume is al mukhamaria which forms part of wedding celebrations. Every bride is expected to use it at her wedding. The scent is made of a mixture of saffron, musk, oud and henna which is stored in a bottle called zaya, and sealed for 40 days before use. In preparation for her wedding, the bride is anointed with all sorts of traditional oils and perfumes from head to toe. Perfumes used today are the same as the ones used in the past. Even their way of application is the same. While the older generation still adheres to the traditional ways of perfuming themselves, the younger generation, especially those under 30, has begun looking for French perfumes. It is important to know that Arabic perfume is quite strong in their smell that lasts for long as compare to western perfumes so one should use arabic perfumes two to three times as per the concentration observed.

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