When Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, looked at her bloodied hands and cried that all the perfumes of Arabia could not sweeten them, perhaps she too knew that the scent of rose, jasmine and amber have the mystical power to wash away almost anything.
Perfumery, or the art of making perfumes, began in ancient Egypt but was developed and further refined by the Romans, the Persians and the Arabs.
It’s an Arab tradition to use aromatic oils as a base for perfumes, called attar. The word ‘attar’, ‘ittar’ or ‘othr’ is basically an Arabic word which means ‘scent’, derived from the Persian word ‘Atr’, meaning ‘fragrance’.
A 9th century Abbasid scientist, Abu Yusuf Yaqub bin Ishaaq al-Kindi, is considered the founder of the Arabic perfume industry.
Ittars, long been considered one of the most treasured of material possessions, are popular not only in Qatar, but throughout the Middle East. These natural perfumes are affordable because they are so concentrated that a small bottle will last for several weeks, if not months.
For the same reason, they are usually offered for sale in small quantities, traditionally in decorated crystal cut type bottles or small jewelled decanters. Due to the purity and the nature of oils, there is very little chance of spoilage.
Additionally, since these perfumes are highly concentrated, a small drop makes the aroma last the whole day. It is also amazing how the aroma’s intensity changes with the changes of body temperature. Their peculiarity is that they are made only from natural ingredients and doesn’t contain any alcohol.
Perfumes are very powerful agent in our social life.
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