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15 Oct, 2019

Fragrances of Ancient India

by Admin | 15th Oct, 2019 |

From the time that has been forgotten in the dusty annals of history, fragrances have played a part in moulding and shaping the culture of the day. Be it the Vedic times or the time when Mughals reigned over India, fragrances have influenced the layman and the rich alike. It is this heritage of ancient Indian fragrances that Karnataka Aromas hopes to embody.

In the Vedic period, perfumes found mention in Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita and Susruta Samhita. This era saw an increased mention of perfumes in literature too. In the Mahabharata, Duryodhana mentions the wealth of aloes wood, sandalwood and perfumes he heaped on as a tribute. Rambha, the celestial beauty, has her face compared to the fragrance of a lotus. Gautama Buddha’s gaze is said to be like the perfume of aloes wood, sandalwood and mangroves. In a Telgu poem, Sita talks about the fragrances of betel leaves, betel nuts, flowers and musk all over her bed.

Archaeologists believe that the art of making perfumes began in India during the Indus Valley civilization. They found a distillation apparatus made out of terracotta which dated back into 3000 BCE. Terracotta vessels were discovered that had plugged orifices and woven material that could be squeezed out to isolate the fragrant oils.

In the Mughal period, perfumes were called ‘itra’, ‘Ittar’or ‘attar’ and, were used in huge amounts in the harems of the royals. During this period, Queen Noorjahan is rumoured to have created a custom ‘itra’ using over 50 different rose essences and 5 kinds of sandal wood oils. Trade during these times flourished and made sure that Indian fragrances reached far and wide to lands like Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Arab and Afghanistan.

Then, came the revolution of Indian freedom. It was during this period that the flourishing industry of Indian perfume making took a back seat to the question of freedom and escape from the clutches poverty. The art of perfume making withered and lay ignored. Only after attaining freedom did the perfume industry see a revival.

The newly free India belonged to the youth and new and modern perfumes enticed their senses. The palates of Indian consumers evolved to include the more sophisticated and popular scents of the western cultures. Since then, Indian perfume has moulded itself not just according to Indian tastes but also to the senses of the people around the world who have coveted it.

The rich legacy of ancient Indian aromas has continued into the modern times of today. Indian fragrances are counted to be amongst the best and are considered to be some of the most unique smells world-wide. As the tastes of modern India evolved, the Indian perfume industry accepted and took modern smells into their folds. At its inception, Karnataka Aromas too recognised the need to bridge the distance between the essentially Indian Aromas and the modern tastes.

Today, we see a gaggle of new age and foreign perfumes in the Indian market. We also see celebrities endorse and come forth with a new line of fragrances every other day. We often tend to give into the new fashioned commotion of perfumes. But at the same time, we must remember to hold dear to our hearts the true fragrance of our roots. We, at Karnataka Aromas believe that the true essence of Indian fragrance lies not just in the appreciation of the past but also in the zest of the future. Karnataka Aromas strives to bring together the grandeur of the ancient fragrances and inspire to instil the flavour of the modern times into it. We aspire to inspire the creation of perfumes that will satisfy the tastes of both the traditional and modern sensibilities.

Anyone in love with both tradition and modernity will tell you that there is only one way to bring them together- it’s scent.