Although the origin of perfume is located in Ancient Egypt, it was the Arabs who knew how to perfect and develop new techniques for the manufacture of fragrances. So much so that they managed to have a monopoly on the aromas and spices trade.
The word perfume has arrived from the Latin word name “Per fumus” which means through the smoke. Perfume has a subliminal big effect on our memory, it arose inimitable positive impact on persons’ mind. The history of perfume? even perfume has its history. It has a great history from Romans to Persians and the Arabs. The Persians and the Arabs were mostly traders because of the desert and they had to go far distance for trading with different communities. Because of this, they used to bring a range of spices and wood for creating Arabic perfumes from India and other Asian countries; Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam etc.. Few elements and base accords playing a vital role for Arabian Perfume are Oud (Agarwood or oudh), Whale ambergris, Deer musk, Jasmine, Frankincense and Agarwood. Equally Rose in Arabian Perfume also has a key part to play, the prominent rose Damascena pink (Rose with 30 petals) 'Rosa damascena trigintipetala' that is found in the Valley of Taif in Saudi Arabia.
A cuneiform tablet in 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia has recorded the earliest use of perfumes. In early history, perfume was mainly for luxury and gradually was almost dead, but Arabs preserved the tradition of perfume and later with a rise of Islam it increased leap and bound in their day to day life and in religious practice, as it is an essential part of Muslim culture. You might have heard about the Arabian perfume? It’s alluring the globe with its distinctive fragrances disseminating the heritage and luxury of life. The history unfolds with a fascinating story
Ancient South Arabia was very different from the desert it is today, lush and full of aromatic plants, it was an area known as the land of perfumes. In fact, in the holy book of Islam, the Qur'an, paradise is described as a scented place full of gardens and trees, great rivers and with a great smell of musk perfume.
THE ARABS AND ALCHEMY IN PERFUMES
It was the Arabs who applied alchemy to the perfume industry. This new science aimed to achieve "the quintessence" of plants by extracting their essential oils through the technique of distillation.
The Arabs took advantage of the development of alchemy in the face of the decline of the perfume industry in the West. It was they who perfected the alembic to distill the alcohol, which they used to obtain the base of the perfume. This was the rapid expansion, trade and popularity in the Middle Ages and a revolution in the way of making perfumes.
The founder of Arabic perfume is recorded in the 9th century by Abbasid Scientist named Abu Yusuf Yaqub bin Ishaaq al Kindi, who used to experiments with various herbs and plants for cosmetics, perfumes & pharmaceuticals.
Already in the 10th century, it was Avicenna, a renowned Arab philosopher and doctor, who introduced rose water to the Muslim world, which was used to perfume or scent the rooms of the house. It was the key element for making aromas, so much so that it was considered a symbol of the purity and wisdom of Allah.
The other name that also has a significant contribution to Arabian Perfume was Jabir ibn Hayyan who developed new techniques in perfume making that include distillation, filtration and evaporation.
Since then perfumery and fragrance have ingrained in the deep culture of Arabian Peninsula. The two major types are Bakhoor and oud (oudh) apart from pure natural oils and concentrated oils. Even since till day the culture has unchanged; if you visit there you will still find the sweet aroma lingering in their houses, mall’s alley and even in shops.