Newsletters

2000

  • India Travel Journals, 1995-1998

    India is a country with vast botanical resources that have been used since ancient times to enhance the lives of her people in multifarious ways. Aromatic plants, in particular have revered place in the hearts of India’s people as the sublime beaty of the fragrances contained in them symbolize the mystery of life that cannot be seen with the eye yet pervades the entire creation. In 1995 I began traveling to India three times a year to explore these various aromatic traditions so that I might be able to share my discoveries with people in other parts of the world.

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  • Visit to Kerala and Tamil Nadu 1—            Spice Oil Facility

    India is a unique country with a rich tradition in the appreciation of fragrance. Since ancient times aromatic plants and products made from them have played a central role in the social, religious, economic and political lives of the people. Fragrant plants have found their way into the foods, medicines, cosmetics, and perfumes of the people. The culinary tradition of India is filled with the use of exotic spices such as pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cumin, and clove. The traditional medicinal practices such as Aryuveda utilize aromatic plants extensively for curing a wide range of diseases. Indeed, fragrance is woven into the very fabric of the lives of the Indian people….

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  • Visit to Kerala and Tamil Nadu 2—Floral Extraction Facility

    Early Monday morning I was picked up by one of the company drivers for the inland journey. We journeyed through the rich farmlands of the coastal region characterized by rice fields, coconut groves, banana and rubber plantations and numerous other warm climate crops woven together in a beautiful tapestry. This is the part of India I know so well and love. Even though India has so many problems, yet the life of the rural communities possesses a real charm to those people from the West that have had the opportunity to live close to the land and her people. There is something about the ancientness of India and the culture that has come out of it that has an unmistakable value that I hope can blend with the need for material advancement. Some of the technology of the West could greatly improve the lives of the common people but I do hope it will not mean the sacrifice the parts of the culture that are so rich and profound. It is a delicate balance to strike.

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  • Visit to Kerala and Tamil Nadu 3—Jasmine and Tuberose Harvest

    At 5:30 A.M. on Wednesday we took off for a nearby area to document the harvesting of tuberose. We picked up the flower purchasing agent in a nearby village and once again headed down obscure country lanes to farms which he knew. As the sun rose we were on location to see the members of one farming family plucking individual buds of tuberose at the proper stage for extraction. Tuberose is harvested throughout the year but its main season is October-November. A one acre parcel will yield about 25 lbs. of buds daily during the height of the growing season and less than half of that at other times of the year.

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  • Visit to Kerala and Tamil Nadu 4—Turmeric and Sandalwood Areas

    Upon returning to the factory we made preparations to leave for Erode some 200 kilometers from here in the very heart of Tamil Nadu where we were going to photograph the turmeric fields for which that area is famous. At about 10:30 we were on our way and our route to us through a part of Coimbatore where the main flower market was located. Here I had a chance to go from stall to stall photographing the exquisite floral creations made for temple worship, weddings, special occasions, and self adornment. India’s flower markets are remarkable places where small shop owners sit fashioning floral mandalas, garlands, and other special creations for the above mentioned purposes. It is, save for the big cities, a market which thrives on the sale of fresh flowers which must, for the most part be used that very day. These are centers of intense activity as the Indian people have a deep and innate love for flowers and they are seen as one of the most appropriate offerings in their religious practices.

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  • Visit to Kannauj 1—Meetings in New Delhi

    The major focus of this second trip was to study the traditional perfume industry in Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh. The first person I met with was Dr. Maheshwari. In a couple of short hours he shared with me a tremendous amount of information. His manner of presentation was so quiet and unassuming but I was well aware that here was one of India’s treasure houses of knowledge on the subject. Our meeting ended with an invitation to attend the meeting of the northern sector of the Essential Oil Association of India(EOAI) several nights hence.

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  • Visit to Kannauj 2—Trip to Kannauj

    In the early morning hours we reached Kanpur a major industrial center of Uttar Pradesh. Kannauj is about two hours north of this busy city and to reach their we engaged a taxi. As the sun rose we passed into the rural districts of that area. India is still an agriculturally based country with over country with over 70% of the population engaged in farm work of one type or another. These small farms and the local villages that support them are the backbone of Indian culture where the spirit and life of the country has been preserved for century upon century.

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  • Visit to Kannauj 3 —Traditional Perfumeries of Kannauj

    Our first destination in Kannauj was the Fragrance and Flavor Development Center a recently developed institution dedicated in part to studying and developing better aromatic plant crops appropriate to the region; teaching entrepreneurs and scientists how to use various types of equipment for distillation and extraction of essential oils, concretes, and absolutes; providing test facilities related to quality, stability and evaluation of fragrances both natural and synthetic; offering courses in fragrance creation, application, and evaluation; etc. The facility contains a Compounding Laboratory, Application Laboratory and Sensory Evaluation Laboratory that have been designed on international standards. Another Laboratory was under construction while I was there that was to house a steam distillation unit, a solvent extraction unit, and molecular distillation unit

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  • Visit to Kannauj 4—Production of Traditional Attars

    The first place we visited was a high-roofed room in which perhaps twenty traditional stills were kept and which were at the time being used for the distillation of a perfume called Hina which is the combination of numerous herbs, roots, spices, and fragrant woods. Each still consists of three parts, a copper cauldron or “Deg” that holds the water and fragrant material to be distilled, a copper receiver with a long narrow neck called a “Bhapka.”(In Hindi, “bhap” means “steam” so a “bhapka” is a vessel that captures the aroma laden steam from the “Deg”) The “Deg” and the “Bhapka” are connected with a hallow bamboo pipe called a “Chonga”. It is wrapped with twine processed from local grasses. The twine serves as an insulator.

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  • Visit to Kannauj 5—Trip to the Ganges and Further Explorations of Kannauj

    Mr. Pampi Jain once again sent his driver to take us on an early morning expedition to the Ganges river. On that fresh, cool spring morning in the ancient land of India, we traveled through the countryside to the holy river held sacred by the Hindu people for thousands of years. One of the reasons a place like Kannauj could come to prominence in ancient times was the fact that it was located in a great river where domestic and international trade could easily be transacted. During the era of Harsha Vardan a great ruler of India whose kingdom existed in the area of Kannauj during the early part of the 6th century the perfume industry is known to have been thriving. There is no doubt that perfumes and fragrances in different forms had been appreciated and used hundreds of years prior to his reign but it is during his era that more complete records have come to light.

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  • Visit to Kannauj 6—Deeper into Kannauj

    After viewing the courtyard in which the vetivert was kept, we were shown the steam distillation unit for sandalwood and vetivert. As this was a family of devote Hindu’s the boiler was seen to have auspicious symbolic inscriptions upon it which were invocations for prosperity and success. The boiler is considered the heart of the operation and as such must be properly cared for and appreciated and so each year a special ceremony was performed to bless it. Other parts of the factory also displayed these symbolic invocations and it was evident that these good people were very respectful of all their equipment and facilities. Sandalwood distillation was in full swing while we were there and the owners explained to us that a typical distillation would go on for 7-9 days. The oil obtained from each days distillation was kept apart until the very end when all fractions would be mixed together to produce the “complete” oil.

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  • Visit to Kannauj 7—Visit to a Sandalwood Distillery

    The last visit of the day was to the home of Mr. Dubey who lived in the old style mansion of his forefathers. We passed from the street into a lovely courtyard with full grown trees, beautiful iron work, carved doors, etc. There we were met by Mr. Dubey who escorted to an open air lounge were we could continue our eating tour and talk about the rich history of his company. His grandfather was responsible for setting up the first steam distillation unit in Kannauj during World War I.Prior to the war sandalwood oil had been produced from the traditional hydro-distillation units like I have described and his grandfather was doing it on a scale large enough that it was being exported to England and America. After war broke out, England could not afford to pay for the oil in cash so they set up a deal where they would provide the most sophisticated steam distillation unit of the time to compensate for the cost of the oil. The equipment was duly sent to Kannauj and set up to begin production. This single English made unit provided a model upon which Indians of the area could make their own units and in this way steam distillation came to North India.

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  • Visit to Kannauj 8—Farewell to Kannauj

    Before leaving we were shown the room in which one more special product is made using fragrant flowers. It was the Indian version of the French enfleurage process. The Indian method uses cleaned and husked sesame seeds in place of the fat. Fresh jasmine, keora, rose and other flowers are spread in alternate layers on the floor of a cemented pit. Exhausted flowers are replaced by fresh ones every 10-12 hours until the seeds are saturated with the perfume. The fragrance laden seeds are then placed in old fashioned stone grinding mill run by a bullock moving in circles and the oil is expressed at very low temperatures. Approximately 1300 lbs of flowers will be used to saturated 500 lbs of seeds. The oil produced from these fragrance saturated seeds will be designated as Sira(high grade) oil. Two lower grades are also produced called Baju(middle grade) and Raji(low grade). They are products obtained by using the spent flowers of Sira Oil . This oils are primarily used for the production of hair oils and cosmetics.

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  • Visit to Rajasthan 1 - Trip from Delhi to Jaipur

    On July 17th I landed in New Delhi to begin the fifth phase of exploring India’s aromatic traditions. Each trip to this point has been filled with numerous interesting discoveries and I knew in my heart that this would be no exception. After clearing customs I emerged into the furnace blast heat of the pre-monsoon season of North India. Rains had been moving across most of the country but had not yet fallen in New Delhi and into Rajasthan so it was a bit on the hot side but I was so pleased to be beginning another aromatic expedition that I did not pay much heed to the weather. After a few minutes Ramakant appeared with the car that had been hired to take us on our journey and we immediately proceeded to Jaipur, a six hour ride from the airport. Within a very short time we left the city limits and passed into the countryside. The road to Jaipur was incredibly smooth, a nice change from some of the previous roads we had traveled on in rural India. Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi are part of the Golden Triangle which forms one of the most popular tourist destinations to India, so apparently government officials have seen the wisdom of keeping the roads in good repair.

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  • Visit to Rajasthan 2—Trip from Jaipur to Jodhpur

    Following our delicious repast we went for a short walk to sit in an open courtyard just outside the village temple dedicated to Krishna. We were enveloped in the darkness as we sat absorbing the vibrations of a land that is filled with a rich history thousands of years old. In the distance we could see rocky mountains jutting out of the desert floor and the outline of temples and fortresses upon them. The lowing of cattle in a nearby dairy provided a gentle background to our reveries. Navneet took us into the temple compound so we could receive the blessings of that atmosphere. In such humble surroundings one is able to sense the deep unassuming devotion that is characteristic of so many millions of Indian people and it is in such places that rich spiritual and cultural traditions are maintained from generation to generation. We returned to our hotel room contented and happy after a full day of travel, adventure and fine companionship.

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  • Visit to Rajasthan 3—Trip from Jodhpur to Nathdwara

    Our road then took us to Haldigatti, the site of one of the most famous battles in Indian history. It was in this valley that the mighty forces of Emperor Akbar met the valiant forces of Rana Pratap Singh in June 1576. Akbar was victorious in the battle in which 14,000 Rajput warriors died but the intrepid Rana Pratap Singh survived and continued to wage guerilla warfare on the Mughal army eventually weakening its hold on the area. Today this valley has become a miniature version of the Valley of Roses in Bulgaria as it grows the finest Damascena roses in India. We took the opportunity to visit some of the small farms each which had dedicated a portion of their land for growing roses and the plants were truly healthy and robust. Fine rose water, gulkand and rose attar is produced here and I think that some of our future work will be done here.

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  • Visit to Rajasthan 4—Return to Delhi via Jaipur and Mandava

    Early the next morning we began our return journey to Jaipur. Along the way beautiful ancient scenes enchanted my eyes. At one place I saw a mother resting with her child beneath a wide-spreading tree. She allowed me to approach and take a few pictures as she rocked her baby in a simple home-made cradle as she talked to him in the sweetest most endearing way. Nearby her husband and other villagers cultivated their fields using tools made at their homes or from local forges. Bullocks quietly moved back and forth at the deep well drawing forth water to irrigate the crops. In these and countless other scenes I find a joy and comfort that comes from knowing that there are still places in the world where people can live and work in their own environments, tending the soil, caring for each other, and leading lives dedicated to religious principles.

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  • Visit to Mysore and Bangalore 1, Pink and White Lotus Ponds

    When the word “lotus” is spoken, it creates in the mind an image of perfect beauty for those who have beheld this wonderous flower. With its roots anchored in the mud of the pond or lake in which it lives, it rises up through the water to bloom on a stately stalk. Whether its color be blue, pink or white, the same elegant form presents itself. In the early morning before the dawn rays cause its petal to unfold, it stands erect and serene in the pose of the folded hands as when people greet each other in India and other Eastern countries. The graceful enfolding of the radiant inner core of the flower by the outer petals in the cool pre-dawn hours reminds one of the patience and calmness one must have while dealing with the many visitudes of life. If somehow one can maintain a serene equipoise so sublimely embodied in the lotus blossom prior to unfolding then when the mind is touched by the spirit of truth it can blossom in an unassuming manner, revealing the golden radiance which always exists in the heart. Then just as the unfolding petals of the lotus release their fragrance into the morning air; fresh, innocent, and pure, so can a person release the natural fragrance of true contentment, kindness, forgiveness and love into the environment in which they live.

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  • Visit to Mysore and Bangalore 2, The Sacred Grove

    Today I am going to take up a different but related subject to the great aromatic traditions of India. As you already know the past 6 or 7 newsletters have concerned themselves with individual aromatic plants like Pandanus odoratissimus, Lawsonia inermis, Vetiveria zizaniodes, Jasminum sambac etc. This newsletter is going to present how these plants and many others were combined in ancient times to create sacred gardens where a very special type of healing took place. By very good fortune there is still at least one person in India who is creating such sacred places. His name is Mr. Yellapa Reddy. He is the retired Chief Forest Officer for the state of Karnatika in South India. It is the visit to the garden that this account describes. Meeting with he and his dear wife was also a tender and precious experience that illuminated the subject in a personal way. They were people of the highest quality with a special connection to the plant world that allowed their hearts to become sublime ambassdors for the gentle messages sent by the lovely botanical creations.

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  • Visit to Coimbatore 1—Spirit of the Land

    Having completed our work in Mysore we continued on to the next important destination, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu state which, in recent years, has gained fame for its jasmine absolutes. Through his numerous contacts in the essential oil industry Ramakant had come to know that a small company headed by Mr. Sivaramakrishna and his son-in-law, Mr. Sethuraman were producing Jasmin grandiflorum and J.sambac absolutes of the finest quality. They graciously offered to host our visit so we could gain a first-hand exposure to the current workings of the industry.

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  • Visit to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 2—Visit to the Jasmine Extracting Unit

    In the early part of the afternoon we reached Coimbatore and checked into the hotel that had been arranged for us by Mr. Sethuraman, the person from whom I had started procuring fine jasmine and tuberose absolutes in January. He, along with his father and mother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Sivaramakarishna, had a well-established extraction facility north of the city and had been engaged in floral absolute production since the later part of the 1970’s. Our purpose in visiting with them was to gain first-hand knowledge of this aromatic industry and to understand how they how built their business during the past twenty years. As soon as we had settled in we contacted Mr. Sethuraman and he immediately came to meet us and take us out for lunch where we could discuss how his family built there business to the place where it was today.

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  • Visit to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 3—Organic Jasmine Flower Gardens

    The early morning journey from Coimbatore into the surrounding countryside was a delight. The hours just before and after sunrise are charged ones in India. It is called the Amrit Vela or the Time of the Nectar as the quiet hours of early morning are considered the most auspicious for prayer and meditation. For thousands of years, the countries people have been rising during this time to pay homage to the Hidden Power which supports all life and the atmosphere is alive with the concentrated energy of this collective devotion. John Hayland, an Englishman who loved India wrote in his book, The Life of Christ:

    “There is an hour of the Indian night, a little before the glimmer of the dawn, when the stars arer unbelievably clear and closer, shining with the radiance beyond our beliefm in this foggy land. The trees stand silent wround one with a friendly presence. As yet there is no sound from the awakening birds, but the whole world seems to be intent, alive, listening, eager. At such a moment the veil between the things that are seen and the things that are unseen becomes so thin as to interpose scarcely any barrier at all beteen the eternal beauty and truth and the soul which would comprehend them.”

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  • Visit to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 4—Jasmine in Sacred Tradition

    Ramakant told me that at the time of great religious festivals in Mumbai, especially in honor of Vishnu and Krishna, entire rooms are decorated with Jasmin sambac flowers producing an ethereal vision of beauty and fragrance that greatly uplifts the minds of those absorbed in that experience. He attended the Satsang of one respected spiritual personality and the place where he sat was richly adorned with several fragrant flowers. Above his head a delicate canopy was fabricated of intricately laced J. sambac flowers that perfumed the entire area. In the Indian tradition it is felt that a person’s mind becomes introverted and concentrated by smelling the odor of jasmine and other fragrant flowers thus allowing them to become a more fit mouthpiece for expressing hidden truths. In like manner, the same aromas make the minds of the listeners to spiritual discources more calm and relaxed so that they attend more carefully to what is being said at such times.

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  • Champa 1, From the Travel Journal

    Several years ago, while studying about the exotic flowers of the East I came across a reference to one called golden champa. The name itself had a strong appeal for me and I became interested in uncovering whatever information I could on the plant. Further research revealed that the delicate flower possessed a rich, ethereal odor that was much prized by the people of India. The tree upon which it grew had glossy green leaves and towered to height of 100 feet in a pyramidical shape. When the tree was in bloom, covered with thousands of golden fragrant blossoms, it was said to be a sight of rare and exquisite beauty. The people of India held the tree in such high esteem that it was often planted near temples and ashrams where its color, form and fragrance could be enjoyed by people coming into those refined environments. Women loved to place the closed buds in their lusterous black hair and in the course of the day, the flowers would open releasing their divine fragrance both for the individual to enjoy as well as those in the immediate environment. A perfume was also made from the delicate blossoms that was said to have notes of orange-flower, ylang-ylang, and tea rose. Each new piece of information intrigued me more, and I became determined to see the tree for myself and to inhale its divine odor.

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  • Champa 2, Champa in Literature

    Bright glow the champaka and pomegranate flowers,
    Like stars that have fallen to Earth with a blush!
    And the wild bulbul’s strains are prolonged thro’ these hours,
    Till the zephyr streams by one rich musical gush!
    Oh! how this deep beautiful music of night
    Is stirring up echoes like spirits around—-
    Till the stars—-those great, glorious Creations of Light—-
    Are listening like lovers to love’s tenderest sound.
        Lady Emmeline Stuart-Wortley, 1806-1855 [from Hours at Naples, and Other Poems (1837)]

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  • Parijata 1, From the Travel Journal

    This January (1998) we (Ramakant Harlalka and I) were on our morning walk in the Matunga section of Mumbai. Along a busy thoroughfare we spotted a beautiful parijat tree (Nycanthes arbortrisis) growing near an apartment complex. As it was the sunrise hour, the delicate flowers were gently falling to the ground and covering the pavement with elegant beauty. We carefully collected a few of them and placing them in my palm I inhaled a lovely bouquet that reminded one of the essense of orange flowers and jasmine. It had a slightly sharper penetrating note but the overall effect was soft and sweet. We decided to collect a small basket of them so we could photograph them in the small studio we had set-up in the flat I was staying. As we picked up one ethereal flower after another, I felt as if I was joining hands with generation after generations of Indians who have collected them for offering at home alters or in the numerous temples that are to be found in countryside, town and city. In ancient Hindu literature the parijatak tree appears as one of the first gifts to humankind hence its sacred status. It was a simple, pleasurable activity that did not harm the tree and gave us a lot of joy because we could come close to the plant and appreciate a little more what a special role it played in the lives of the Indian people.

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  • Parijata 2, General Information

    I hope you are well and enjoying fine weather wherever you may be in the world. Today’s newsletter will begin a series on exotic flowers with reference to their use in traditional attars, medicine, history, lore and legends, etc. Parijata/Nyctanthes arbortristis, Sona Champa/Michelia champaca, Gulhina/Lawsonia inermis, and several others will be taken up in the months to come. The information is a compositite of personal interactions with the plants, the areas where they grow, etc as well as assembled data from different resources.

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  • Mitti, from the Travel Journal

    In the Bhagavad Gita, when Lord Krishna reveals his true idenity to Arjuna, he uses the lovely phrase, “the fragrance of the earth”, to describe his essential nature. This fragrance is very dear to the Indian people as it is associated with the coming of the monsoon rains which is the life-giver. In many places there is no other water source for irrigating the crops than that which comes from the sky. When the monsoon season approaches the farmers throughout the country search the horizon for signs of the moisture-laden clouds with fervent prayers that this years rains will be sufficient to grow the crops which will feed their families, communities and country. The feelings that get awakened at that time are very intense and one must realize that the entire livelihood of millions of people is tied up with the amount of rain that falls in any given year. When the first drops of rain fall upon the parched earth, it gives off an intoxicating aroma that is inhaled by the country folk in deep satisfying draughts. It is a cause for singing, dancing, and tears of joy because if all goes well in a few short months the fields will be full of nourishing crops.

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  • Bakul

    The lovely evergreen Bakula tree of the Indian subcontinent, with its small shiny , thick, narrow, pointed leaves, straight trunk and spreading branches is a prized ornamental specimen because it provides a dense shade and during the months from March to July fills the night air with the delicious heady aroma of its tiny cream colored flowers. In the morning the ethereal flowers which so graciously scented their surroundings with their deep, rich, honey notes during the evening hours, fall to the ground. People living in their proximity love to collect them as they retain their odor for many days after they fall. They are offered in temples and shrines throughout the country. Because of their ability to hold their fragrance for many days the flower has a special symbolic meaning when offered to the gods and goddesses. An offering of Bakula flowers signifies the unwavering devotion of the aspirant for the object of their devotion just as the bakul flower maintains its wonderful perfume long after it has fallen from the tree. The flowers have also inspired a popular saying, “true friendship lasts like the scent of maulsari(bakul)” They are equally prized for making into tiny garlands which can be woven into the hair emitting a perfume that is a delight to the wearer and to those who come in their company.

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  • Hina

    There is an aura of mystery surrounding the Indian perfume known as Hina or Shamama. It is a rich, deep and intensely oriental fragrance much prized in India and the Middle East but relatively little known in the West. It should not be confused with Henna, the term is also used in connection with the red paste produced from the leaves of the plant, Lawsonia inermis, popularly used to decorate the hands and feet of women for special functions and as a hair colorant.  The perfume Hina or Shamama is an entirely different product and this newsletter sheds some light on as to how it is made and the processes involved in its manufacture.

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  • Ruh Khus (Wild Vetiver)

    In February of 1995 I had the opportunity to travel with my fragrance mentor, Ramakant Harlalka and his good friend Dr. Maheshwari to the north Indian town of Kannauj in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The purpose of our visit was to explore the traditional perfume industry which still thrives in that region. One of the main plants distilled at that time of year was the wild vetiver root and during the course of the few days I spent in their company, I was to gain a better understanding of the importance of this root and the vital role it has played in the lives of the Indian people throughout the countries long history.

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  • Gulhina / Henna Flower

    Mandore was the site of the former capitol of the area and was established in a fertile gorge surrounded by rocky hills. The Parihar Rajputs ruled here from the sixth to thirteenth century and built a charming palace complex surrounded by beautiful gardens. We entered this ancient site through a park of towering trees, shrubs, flowers and waterways. Temple like structures called chhatis were prominent features of the landscape. They marked the spot where past rulers had been cremated. Other magnificent buildings graced the landscape and we enjoyed the fine mood created by the gentle post-sundown light. Luscious smells of henna and jasmine flowers wafted on the night air.

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  • Ylang Ylang 1

    The oil of today is Ylang Ylang with special reference to what is known as Ylang Ylang Superior Extra. As you are most likely aware Ylang Ylang is generally offered in what is known as fractions: Extra, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Another oil is offered which is known as a complete. Generally companies involved in preparing the different fractions of Ylang Ylang add the fractions together in specific proportions to form the Complete. There is one more grade that is rarely offered which is called the Ylang Ylang Superior Extra Grade. It is considered by many to represent the most lovely notes of Ylang Ylang. The Superior Extra Grade cannot be prepared in all locations where the tree grows. One of the most superior climates for growing Ylang Ylang is on the island of Mayotte off the coast of Madagascar and it is here that a truly divine Extra Superior Grade of Ylang Ylang is prepared from organcially grown flowers(ECO CERT certified)

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  • Ylang Ylang 2

    The subject of Ylang Ylang is a fascinating one and in this one small article it can only be briefly touched on. It remains on of the finest affordable natural perfume materials for people involved in natural perfumery and cosmetics etc. Personal involvement began when I read through the accounts of its distillation by Ernest Guenther and Stephen Arctander. As all of you know Ylang is one of the only essential oils that is fractionated meaning that during the distillation process, according to the knowledge of the distiller, Superior Extra, Extra, 1st, 2nd and 3rd fractions are taken off. From an olfactory standpoint the odor of the Superior and Extra fractions are considered to be the finest.

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  • Geranium

    I hope all of you are doing your olfactory exercises because there are many new oils coming in to enjoy. Today the lovely, rich, complex, Bourbon Geranium(Reunion Islands) Essential Oil arrived. In most instances the leaves of geranium are steam distilled but in this special instance they are hydro-distilled. Last year, just about this time Ramakant, his family and I took a group of 22 people to India to share with them the aromatic botanical wealth of South India.

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  • Neroli

    Today I am taking up the story of Neroli. It is an essence that is filled with the most remarkable, uplifting aromatic molecules. It is an essence which almost everyone loves. The main center of production is currently Tunisia with Morocco, Spain, France(southern part, Guinea, Algeria, Egypt and a few other counties contributing their own special distillations of this oil. It is important to remember that even though the very same genus and species of a plant may be used for distilling an oil, the oil itself may display marked differences. Much depends upon the soil, the climate of that particular year, the water, distilling technique, etc.

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  • Frangipani

    When I visited Philip in South India, he took me into the surrounding countryside to visit the areas where champaca flowers and frangipani flowers were growing in their wild state for production of the concrete. Deep in the rural countryside we saw many stately trees bedecked with flowers(the first flush of flowers emerge before the leaves) Many of the trees were planted near temples and holy shrines, hence its name, Temple Tree. Later in a number of other localities in India, I saw giant frangipani trees growing in temple compounds, even in the heart of Rajasthan where the climate is much hotter and drier than the Bangalore area. The idea of planting the trees near temples and shrines seemed excellent as the aroma pervaded the entire area creating a contemplative atmosphere as well as providing delicate flowers for offering in the inner sanctuary. Indians have for countless generations found aromatic flowers one of the fittest offerings for worship. The flower is seen as the symbol of the fragile human life out of which should come the fragrance of devotion that allows the soul to merge with the mysterious Essence of all life. In the spiritual symbolism of India the flower has a special significance. The 5 petals are said to be represent five qualities necessary for Psychological Perfection: sincerity, faith, aspiration, devotion and surrender.

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  • Lavender

    Today we shall explore a plant that is dear to many of us as an immediate reality. There are many exotic flowers, herbs, spices, roots and woods which grow in distant lands which are difficult for many us to experience in a direct way but lavender is a plant which grows in many North American and European climates. This quiet and humble herb exudes a scintillating, fresh and pure aroma which seldom fails to touch the heart. It reminds one of simpler times when such elegant gifts of nature were used to enhance the lives of the common people by placing these aromatic stems in drawers and chests, to scent sheets and garments. It was a common ingredient in potpourris, lending color and aroma to house and home. Today we are also realizing the incredible value of this plant and its precious oil and the use of lavender for a wide of variety of aesthetic purposes is well known.

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  • Petigrain

    This time we will explore the different dimensions of Petitgrain as there are several major oils distilled from the leaves and twigs of the Citrus genus. The explorations that I am engaged in are purely from an olfactory standpoint. The interplay of major, minor and trace constituents in a single essential oil is a work of great beauty which changes from season to season, country to country and year to year and how those oils come into being through the environments they grow in, the people who tend the aromatic harvest, and the folks who distill their oils is the major focus of the work that I am engaged in.

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  • Gulab/Rose

    The subject of the rose and her sublime fragrance is one that has no end. Volumes have been written on this subject and what is more, a person who has had the opportunity to explore this precious essence as it radiates from the living flower or in the carefully captured rose otto, absolute or attar has written the celestial memory of this odor on their heart. The thoughts and emotions evoked by the divine aroma of this flower cannot be confined to words. Its radiant fragrance has the capacity to remind one of the most precious aspirations of the heart and soul.

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