By Creezy Courtoy, IPF Founder and Chair and Perfume Anthropologist
Understanding Scent Preferences for Creating and Distributing Fragrances
Distributing a perfume in several countries can be a real challenge. It can be just a failure for famous brands, but a dangerous game for small brands who can financially lose everything. In the art of fragrance creation, understanding the anthropology of perfume is essential. By delving into the diverse scent preferences shaped by culture, region, and individual sensitivities, fragrance creators can craft scents that resonate on a deeper level. The ability to influence others through the strategic use of preferred scents becomes more attainable when armed with the knowledge of anthropology of perfume. So, let's embrace the rich tapestry of scent preferences and create fragrances that captivate the senses and forge lasting connections.
Men and women have long recognized the power of scents in influencing their fellow humans. While it is impossible to predict exactly how an individual will respond to a particular smell, psychologists have discovered intriguing connections between odors and memories. For example, a single floral scent can evoke memories of a crowded elevator, a funeral, an old boyfriend's excessive aftershave, or even the onset of hay fever. Despite the varying responses, scientific investigations have revealed common preferences among sexes, cultures, age groups, and personality types. By understanding these preferences, perfumers can safely select the countries where their products will be successful.
Cultural Influences on Scent Preferences
Cultures play a significant role in shaping scent preferences and the ways in which scents are used. Let's explore some fascinating examples:
The Japanese: Perfuming Daily Life
In Japanese culture, scent has permeated almost every aspect of daily life. From personal care products to household items, the Japanese have cultivated a deep appreciation for fragrance. They even engage in games with friends and family that involve identifying various smells. Understanding the importance of scent in Japanese culture can provide valuable insights when creating fragrances for this audience.
In contrast, the Anglo-Saxon approach to scent is more understated.
Publicly smelling one's food or wine is considered uncouth in their culture. However, the bouquet of wine and the taste of food both heavily rely on the sense of smell. Anglo-Saxons prefer subtler scents when it comes to personal fragrance, avoiding being too "obvious." Respect for cultural norms is crucial when designing fragrances for this audience.
Across different cultures, there are notable variations in scent preferences. For instance, Orientals appreciate heavy, spicy, and animalistic perfumes. Valerian root extract, which is detested by most Europeans, is favored in Oriental cultures. On the other hand, Asians may struggle to understand the Western love for pungent cheeses. Recognizing these cultural differences is essential for creating fragrances that resonate with specific target markets.
Regional Influences on Fragrance Choices
Apart from cultural influences, regional factors such as climate and environment also shape fragrance preferences.
Northern Europeans, living in colder climates, often prefer heavier fragrances that provide warmth and comfort. In contrast, Mediterraneans are drawn to sophisticated floral scents, likely due to their love for being surrounded by flowers. Taking these climate-based preferences into account can enhance the effectiveness of fragrance creations.
Universally Pleasant Smells and Aversions
While there are cultural and regional variations, it is safe to say that there is a broad agreement within the human race about what smells pleasant and what doesn't. Most people appreciate flower and fruit scents, while being repulsed by foul odors such as rotten eggs, fish, or stagnant drains. Understanding these universally pleasant and unpleasant smells can guide fragrance creators in developing appealing and attractive scents.
People's responses to scents can also vary based on their individual sensitivities, as well as the influence of education, societies, and marketing.
Therefore, do not miss your opportunity to sell and distribute successfully your perfumes worldwide.
Learn more about the Anthropology of Perfume and get ready for your perfume distribution.
By Creezy Courtoy, Perfume Historian and Anthropologist
For a long time, Perfume remained an important source of revenue for Greece.
In the Bronze Age, Egypt, due to its geographical, protected and isolated location and by its geological wealth and cultures, was obliged to import raw materials from Arabia and the Aegean Islands.
Egypt was rich in gold, but did not possess the raw materials necessary for making perfumes. Arabs, Hadramaout (South Yemen) and Dhofar (Oman) provided Egypt with scented woods and resins (myrrh, incense, olebanon) and Greeks provided flowers, herbs and their talents of perfumers in the confection of perfumed oils.
Greece was then a country of farmers, breeders, Artisan Corporations and a fighting aristocracy. Greece was a country of scents, herbs, flowers and plants.
Due to its geographical location and its numerous surrounding islands, Greece was a gateway to Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt.
The Greeks are credited for having added to spices, to gums and to balms, oils scented with flowers.
Flowers and plants used for export had to be preserved and transformed.
Olive oil, one of the main resources of Greece, was used as an ointment and as an excipient or absorbent in perfume oils. The Greeks practiced ‘enfleurage’ and from an early age, the art of creating perfumed oils.
In the time of Ancient Egypt, perfume was used mainly to communicate with the gods; during Ancient Greece, it was used to resemble the gods.
Perfume was actually used by Egyptians but never throughout history could Egyptians, impregnated with fragrant scents, assist human divination, not only in the sculptural art that gave the gods their human faces and bodies, but also in the wearing of perfume that participated in this quest of perfection by making humans more divine.
Since gods smell good, to be like them you must smell divinely good.
The Greeks associate perfume to the erotic power of the union of two people.
The Greeks buried their dead with their possessions and a terracotta vase or alabaster containing perfume.
For poor people, vials painted onto the coffin replaced the alabasters.
The perfume played the role of intermediary between the world of people and that of Gods and helped the dead to reach the other world.
In everyday life, perfume was not a neutral thing, « thion », « myron » or a simple aroma but a feminine being. It was used in and for everything; as a life elixir, a nectar, and a ragweed.
It gave hope of immortality to humans because the Gods were beautiful and immortal.
For the author Virgil, Venus (Aphrodite) created the rose perfume. "One day, Venus wanted to cut a white flower and pricked herself, covering her with an everlasting purple color. To Cupid, the rose seemed so beautiful that he kissed it… This is where its smell comes from."
Towards the end of the II Millennium BC, the Greek industry acquired knowledge, “art de vivre” and know-how that gave birth to the Europe of Perfumes.
Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History text (XIII 9-12 XV, 28-38), mentioned at least 22 kinds of perfumed oils, most of them extracted from plants naturally growing on the island of Crete: cypress, marjoram, broom, iris, spikenard, rose, myrtle, laurel, crocus, lily, juniper, pine, nut, almond, carnation, poppy, coriander, aniseed, cumin, narcissus, and daisy.
During the period of the Mycenaeans, even taxes were paid in plants.
Circa 1450 BC, perfumery was truly an industry controlled by the Masters of the Mycenaean palaces. The decryption of linear writing par par Alice Kober in 1947 and Michaël Ventris et John Chadwick in 1952, found on 20% of the 7000 Mycenaean clay tablets of the islands of the Aegean Sea show that a prominent position was given to scented products, ointments, incenses, aromatic wine, perfume oils, and spices. Everything listed on these tablets provided a real accounting of orders and exports.
Perfumery, in Greece was mainly a branch of medical science. Some odors excited or inspired while others healed.
Hippocrates studied skincare in a comprehensive manner and advocated perfumed baths and massages combined with the use of aromatic substances to treat some diseases. He recommended remedies based on sage, cinnamon or cumin, applied either through fumigation, potions, frictions or aromatic baths.
He also used perfume as a protection against diseases. It is said that he saved Athens from the plague by burning aromatic woods and hanging flower garlands in the streets. Hippocrates considered various oils used to preserve odors, the use of flowers and spices and the choice of a hundred perfumes for different states of mind and health both for men and women.
"Because both senses – taste and smell – are linked one to another,
each serves somehow the pleasure of the other and man
can thus discover fragrances either because it pleases the taste or the sense of smell.’’ Théophraste (400BC Book of Odors – Chapter III)
The Greeks were the first to utilize ‘’packaging’’ and ‘’marketing techniques’’.
The alabasters, the oenochoes and the ariballoi were all made of terracotta decorated with trendy themes, perfectly understood by all the populations of the Mediterranean and all refer to Greek mythology or to major known themes. These vials were presented in various sizes in the same way as bottles are today: from the small inexpensive ariballoi vial containing little perfume to the enormous and expensive ariballoi jar which would today correspond to 1 litre of perfume.
For a long time, perfumery items remained an important source of revenues for Greece. Cargos of wax-sealed vials and vases containing perfume oils were continuously leaving Peloponnese or Crete towards Mediterranean ports.
Masters in the Art of creating perfumes; Masters in the Art of Cosmetics, ornament and make-up; Masters of the Art of packaging: the Greeks created the first industry of perfumery during Ancient times.
By Creezy Courtoy, World Perfume Historian and Anthropologist
My first passion has always been the impressive history of perfume and I could never think the way I think today if I did not spend all my life collecting perfume antique artworks and searching for the true perfume history. When you start searching, it never ends and still today I am looking for something; each piece leading me to more research.
In the Arab World, perfume was precious, it was considered as pure gold. Let me invite you to follow me on the history of perfume in that part of the world.
Circa 4000 B.C., the Sumerians built the first City States such as Sumer,
Ur, Uruk or Nippur, along rivers.
“Mesopotamia” literally means “the country between the two rivers”.
Located between Tiger and Euphrates, this region currently corresponds to
Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Southern Turkey and Israel.
Cuneiform writing carved onto the clay tablets reveals formulas and perfumes used by these ancient populations since the middle of the third millennium B.C.
Lebanese cedar, cypress and myrtle were the three most used fragrances. Originally, the gods loved natural perfume and got close to those who wore them. This is why the servants of the temple covered their bodies with myrtle oils before carrying out the rituals and the offerings to the numerous gods. Perfumes were reserved to divinities, kings and temple worship.
Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, lived a rather eventful life, characterized by his vain quest for immortality. Perfume, the most noble and precious element then made its way into his alchemy research.
The relation between medicine and gods was very close.
One of the healing gods was the two-headed snake Ningishzida. The snake, symbol of eternal life, might have been the first icon of caducei. His name in Sumerian is translated as “lord of the good tree”.
About 1000 years later, the Akkadians replaced the Sumerians and created the first empire of the world ruled by Sargo the Ancient.
Phoenicians sailors and traders settled on the coast of Lebanon and build colonies in Cyprus, Crete, sicilia, malta and Northern Africa.
Tyr, their capital, having enjoyed a permanent relation with Egypt and Mesopotamia, became one of the most important ports.
Circa 1900 B.C., Babylonians replaced Akkadians.
Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.), created the powerful empire of Babylon.
Babylon remained the main warehouse of spices from all over the world for a long time. It received spices from India and from the Persian Gulf, scented gums from Arabia and balms from Judea.
Nabuchodonosor I (1124 B.C.) had his palace built with cedar beams and cypress doors that smelled kilometers away.
According to Herodotus, over 1000 talents of pure incense were burnt every year on the altar of Belus. Zoroaster prescribed the use of perfumes on altars five times a day.
In the hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, all the scented plants were showcased. According to Diodorus, (Greek columnist of the 1st century, contemporary of Julius Caesar) cedar, mimosa, Arabian jasmine, lily, crocus, iris, violet and rose, gave the Kingdom the reputation of owning the most beautiful roses of the Ancient Orient.
Chaldeans, circa 600 B.C., represented the last civilization of Mesopotamia with two famous Kings: Nabopolassar and Nabuchodonosor II.
They inherited a great culture, developed astronomy, astrology and added all this science to the Art of Perfumery.
Plants and resins must be collected at certain times in the day, or at a precise moment in the year in order to reinforce their efficiency.
The fall of Babylon, conquered by the Persians in 539, did not upset the trade of perfumes.
Focused on the fringes of the desert, the caravan kingdoms owed an important part of their prosperity to the trade of perfumes. Sidon (then Carthage) replaced Babylon as the capital of perfume and spices. For the Cananeans as well as for Babylonians, Phoenicians and Sabaeans, perfumes and spices were both pure gold and divine message.
For thousands of years, they carefully preserved the trade and even caused wars.
Arabia Felix, also called the “Fertile Crescent”, stretched from Oman to the Suez Gulf and across its length were paths taken by the caravans.
Called “The Perfume Roads”, these ancient trails linked the south to the North of this continent and crossed the deserts of one of the oldest countries in the world. To ensure the security of the trade on The Perfume Roads, in the 10th century B.C., Balkis, the Queen of Sheba organized a meeting with Solomon, the Hebrew King...
If, like me, you are impassioned by World Perfume History, I will be happy to transmit my knowledge to you and tell you more about the Perfume History in the Arab World.
We definitely need more perfume history teachers to make sure the perfume heritage will be preserved and transmitted to the next generations.
By Creezy Courtoy, Anthropologist and Olfaction Expert
OUR CHILDREN OLFACTORY SENSE
The Olfactory Sense is the First Sense to Begin Development in the Fetus
I have always been fascinated by olfaction, which is why I spent time studying gorillas.
Like gorillas that use 100% of their olfactory sense, newborns have the same powerful sense of olfaction. Olfaction is the most powerful sense of all their senses. It is the first sense to begin development in the fetus, and arrives at maturity before all the others.
Immersed in amniotic liquid, the fetus swims in a bath of emanations and swallows four to five quarts of flavored water per day.
Newborns See With Their Nose
The first odor discerned by newborns is the smell of their mother, and it is that smell which will determine their behavior towards others.
The olfactory sense of newborns is certainly their most developed sense. It guides the child, and the messages they receive make them feel secure.
Only a few days after their birth, babies begin using their noses to receive all emanations passing around them.
Their smell is so sharp that they encounter all odors, even those we are no longer able to smell. Their olfactory sense is more sensitive than that of an adult.
Even though they do not yet know how to express themselves verbally to communicate their senses, newborns react to odors through motor reactions of the respiratory or cardiac rhythm changes.
Babies less than two weeks old orient themselves automatically towards maternal odors. They are dependent on their mother's constant attention to feel psychologically well.
They will learn to recognize their mother by her smell, which they will prefer to any other smell and will bond to it; this process gives them the security they need to live.
This is why we can say ”newborns see with their nose”.
The First Years of a Child's Life Are Very Critical.
The olfactory sense, (and instinctive sense, considered as too animal-like), was almost entirely rejected by our society.
In our present adult environment sight prevails over all other senses. Human beings have lost their olfactory sense and must learn to smell again. Olfaction is a very important sense in the harmonization of human beings because to feel good, we need all of our senses to be in balance. If the olfactory sense is not maintained, it progressively disappears sometimes completely when approaching old age.
It is only lately that our society is realising how important the sense of smell is. Still, many parents and educators do not pay much attention to their own sense of smell and are not teaching their children to do so.
This is why, I have put in place a Children Olfactory Preservation Program starting at 4 months, when babies start eating solid food.
The first years of a child's life are very critical. Children’s sensory experiences help them build a bundle of emotions and sensations that gives them tools to grow and develop in harmony. It is necessary to help babies and young children preserve their olfactory habits.
How Can We Engage Kids To Preserve Their Olfactory Instincts in This Visual And Auditory Civilization?
How can we recreate olfactory education and re-develop olfactory habits?
Les Ateliers des Petits Nez (Workshops for Little Noses) have been especially created to teach babies and children how to preserve the power of their olfactory sense. The International Perfume Foundation previously tested this Children Olfactory Preservation Program in nurseries and kindergartens.
Today I am giving lectures on this subject, and I have created an Online MasterClass to teach young parents, grandparents, educators, nurseries, kindergartens and schools to accelerate this movement.
Our children are our future, they need to feel good and to feel secured to face the challenges of this changing world.
Sri Kudaravalli's Interview by Françoise Rapp
What inspired you to become a perfumer?
The joy of delightful smells and a good nose. To express myself in a different language. Speaking through perfumes as perfumes can replace words. When created from love with intention, attention and the right ingredients, perfumes have the power to impact a person in a positive way.
How did you start? What courses have you followed?
I started reading first - books, online. Then I talked to some Indian perfumers and gained more knowledge. Later I came across the Natural Perfumery Teacher’s Academy online courses for French style natural perfumery. I really like how the curriculum is structured. It is obvious that a lot of thought went into designing the courses. It’s a full spectrum curriculum that includes - gardening, oil extraction, perfumery, aromatherapy, perfume history, olfaction to marketing adhering to IPF’s New Luxury Code. They pack a lot of punch in the short format courses and the information is very practical and actionable. The courses broadened my horizons and I picked up a lot of knowledge in a short period of time and was able to design products and create my brand. For anyone wanting to learn natural perfumery, the ancillary information and is environmentally conscious, it's a good place to start. The faculty is friendly, kind, and knowledgeable.
What made you decide to create your brand?
Several factors. As you know, we all went through a very difficult pandemic, the past two years, and many people are still experiencing a deep sense of isolation, fear and uncertainty. I asked myself what would be the role of a perfumer? How can I contribute? How can one help restore some sense of well-being?
In this context, I would like to quote an ancient perfumer from India - Gangadhara, 1500 years ago, said:
“The final goal of perfumery is to infuse semi-divinity within us and elevate our mind by freeing it from the mundane worries of the world."
So, I feel as perfumers we have a certain responsibility to help people cope with everyday post-pandemic life, and it was in that spirit, Xila Apothic, was created.
To me a brand is not just about selling products. It's about what you stand for.
Xila Apothic is not just about perfumes - it introduces people to a way of life. Brand is a unique expression of you - your values, belief system, culture, a community of people with shared interests and rituals. It is a way of self-expression.
What made you participate in the New Luxury Awards competition?
I wanted to challenge myself. I think taking action is key to success. Entering a competition forces you think through things and paves way for smart and hard work. It stretches you and nudges you out of your comfort zone. In the process, you discover new facets of yourself and your strengths.
What was your feeling when you came to Paris and received the New Luxury Award?
It was very gratifying. A validation that belief in one-self and focused hard work pay off. I would like to thank Creezy Courtoy, IPF Chair, for creating this platform to showcase our talent and for encouraging natural perfumers. I would also like to thank the faculty at the Natural Perfumery Teacher's Academy for their guidance.
What has happened to you since this?
New opportunities are knocking on my doors, including investors and clients.
We are launching a new product line for the upcoming festive holiday season starting from September 2022, besides what is already available.
Social Media: @XilaApothic
By Creezy Courtoy, IPF Founder and Chair,
Anthropologist, Historian and Olfaction Trainer
No Sense is More Important than the Olfactory Sense!
I really want you to understand that a perfume is not only a smell, it is much more than that and everyone should really know this before learning to become an olfaction trainer, an aromatherapist or a perfumer.
When you smell a perfume:
-going through your brain, it creates memories and sensations.
-it has an action on your nervous system, regulating organs.
-it is also a gas and what we breathe has immediate access to our blood. While penetrating through the thin membranes of our lungs, fragrances and perfumes reach the bloodstream much more quickly than the absorption of matter by the digestive tracts.
-it influences your hormonal system
-it acts on your organs through your nervous system
-in the bloodstream, it participates to the irrigation of your organs
-it can also modify your DNA and your cell's organization
Digestion and the breaking down of solids, like medicinal pills, take much more time reaching the bloodstream, as the absorbed solids must be digested and pass through the thick intestinal wall.
These are the reasons making a perfume or blending essential oils has responsibilities.
When you teach olfaction training, when you train yourselves, when you create natural perfumes or when you blend essential oils, always study the particularity of the oils. Do not use products without knowing their origins.
Olfaction can be dangerous. With essential oils, you can always find data and talk to the person in front of you.
With synthetic substances you have no historical data like we have for flowers and plants. Natural Perfumes are more expensive but it is worth to consider !
Perfume, by simple olfaction, sends messages to the nervous system, especially, to the area called "the big sympathetic" which plays a very important role in the maintenance of the health balance of humans.
The nervous system is the supreme organizer of matter, where life emanates. Its actions spread to all the organs where it regulates the different functions to achieve this harmonious whole that is the human body.
Besides, it assures the defense of the organism in protecting the body from external attacks.
”The big sympathetic” is made of a double chain of joint ganglia, situated at each side of the backbone. From these ganglia emerge many nerve connections terminating at the vegetative life organs: liver, spleen, lungs, heart, blood vessels, etc.
In some regions of the body nerves also form real networks, and insure the communication of the big sympathetic with the central nervous system.
The nervous system presides in exchanges, warns of failings, provides the various organ needs and rescues those that are threatened.
It directs the natural defenders: the white blood cells or leukocytes, also called phagocytes.
The stronger the microbial attack the stronger the defense.
Different conditions, by their suddenness or duration, can cause an abrupt disruption in the balance of the nervous system and also on the entire organism. A failing nervous system can occur in different ways: tiredness, insomnia, unaccustomed emotional stress, sudden weight loss, or an uncharacteristic tendency to exaggerate or discourage. If, at this moment, a bacterial attack occurs, the nervous system would not have the necessary strength to fight it.
Within the nervous system is the autonomic nervous system, which then contains the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
These two systems are involuntarily, meaning our body does not have control over what it is being performed.
The sympathetic nervous system is known as “fight-or-flight”, while parasympathetic is known as “rest and digest”.
Even though they are different, these systems still work hand in hand with one another to help control the way our body works.
Sympathetic is almost like an alarm clock, as it arouses the body and stimulates the nerves to start working. On the other hand, parasympathetic helps calm the body down, as it brings the body back to its normal state.
Natural essential oils can rebalance your nervous system, therefore it is important to learn aromatherapy and olfaction training before learning natural perfumery.
If you want to learn more about the importance of your olfactory sense, if you want to learn how to train, preserve or restore your olfactory sense, enrol for Creezy Courtoy's 8 weeks Olfaction Course.
By Creezy Courtoy, World Perfume History Expert and Teacher
Located in Uttar Pradesh, Kannauj is a small, dusty town spreading along the banks of river Ganga.
It is one such amazing place that has a centuries - old legacy of producing long-lasting perfumes and is often compared to Grasse, France. The perfumes that made Grasse popular are Jasmine, Centifolia Rose, Lavender, Orange blossom and wild Mimosa, a very different palette compared to the Sandalwood, Cedar, Heena, Jasmine, Attar Mitti, Kewda Marigold and Damascena Rose of Kannauj.
The process of making perfume has been mentioned in the scriptures of Ayurveda since ancient times.
In some Vedas, prescriptions of 3500 years old, mention fumigation of aromatic woods. It is written in the Vedas that when Yajnas were performed a lot of things went into it as a sacrifice. A foul smell used to emulate when meat was sacrificed, so in order to eliminate the smell aromatic ingredients were offered into the fire. Thus, the art of extracting scents from different substances began. Legend ascribes the invention of distillation to an Indian Princess named Nùr Djihân. In 1568, on the morning of her wedding with Akbar, the Mongol Emperor, Nur noticed foam vapors floating to the surface of a rosewater fountain. From then on, she understood the process of distillation, the most common way to extract essential oil from a plant.
In Kannauj perfumes are prepared with the help of the hydro-distillation process. Nickel plated copper vessels are used as they do not rust.
1. Flowers are soaked in water and heated in containers
2. Condensers are filled with oil.
3. On boiling, the vapour of the flowers passes through the hollow bamboo pipes into a condenser.
4. The oil present in the condenser absorbs the vapour’s fragrance.
5. This process continues for around five hours and excess water is separated from oil after the condenser completely cools down.
6. As per the quality of perfume, the process is continued on the same oil for 30 days.
Can you ever think of using the smell of rain to make perfume?
When you set your foot into the perfume capital of India and try amazing perfumes there, it feels ‘time just stops’. Kannauj will sweep you away in an era of attars. From ancient emperors like Shah Jahan to modern Kings of the Middle East, attar, the Indian perfume is largely preferred to most high-end branded fragrances.
How many fragrances can you think of when talking about attars and perfumes?
Just the basic ones like a rose, sandalwood, jasmine oil and other common fragrance. Can you ever think of using the smell of rain to make perfume? Villagers at Kannauj can make this possible by reproducing the aromatic fragrance of rain.
Have you ever heard of Attar Mitti ?
Attar Mitti, also known as itr–e–khaki is one of the unique attars found in Kannauj The redolence of this attar has a sweet blend of woody note of the Sandalwood and an earthy smell of clay.
Attar Mitti is a co distillation of earthen clay pots with the steam bearing the scent of the soil, the clay is infused over sandalwood oil. Over several rounds of distillation / infusion the base oil is imbibed with the smell of the clay till it starts smelling of petrichor. The attar known as Attar Mitti is fancied by end consumers trying to get as close to the olfactory sense of the rain. It also is used by the perfumers to inculcate an earthy note in their perfume compositions.
Are you looking for more knowledge about India Perfume History ?
Enrol for Creezy Courtoy's World Perfume History Master Class
PERFUME IN ANCIENT EGYPT
NEFERTUM, God of Perfumers and Aromatherapists
by Creezy Courtoy
Nefertum (Nefertem, Nefertemu) was an ancient god, the God of Perfumers and Aromatherapists ( at this time perfumers were all aromatherapists ) mentioned in the Pyramid Texts (c. 2350 BC), but became more prominent during the New Kingdom (1539 - c. 1075 BC) and later.
Nefertum was the son of Ptah and Sekhmet.
Ptah, his father, was the creator God and the Patron of artisans.
His mother, Sekhmet, was the Goddess with a dragon head who protected Egypt from its enemies but she was also the Goddess of plants and herbs and the Patron of medical and alchemist distillation. Nefertum ruled over ointments and perfumed oils.
In Ancient Egypt, fragrances were considered as the essence of materialization of all things. Nefertum was thus considered the spirit of life.
He represented beauty in its perfection and was associated with purification and youthfulness. His symbol and representation was the blue lotus flower, the sacred flower of Egypt through which the sun rose.
Nefertum was the god of the lotus blossom who emerged from the primeaval waters at the beginning of time, and a god of perfume and aromatherapy.
Nefertum was the god of healing, medicine and beauty and strongly associated with the lotus and often depicted in Egyptian art with a large lotus blossom forming his crown. The lotus was the only flowering plant in Egypt that bloomed nonstop throughout the year. Held by gods and goddesses near the nose of royal kings, queens and pharaohs as its scent, this flower was believed to be restorative and protective.
Nefertum was seen as the sun god and the grandson of the sun god.
He was not originally worshipped in temples, but was an important aspect of the sun god, who was later discovered as the grandson of the sun god.
For the people in Egypt, he was their protector and their healer.
Nefertum was linked both to the pleasant scent of the lotus flower and to its medical properties which were well known to the ancient Egyptians.
He was also associated with a number of the Egyptians favorite flowers, such as rose, geranium and cornflower. In fact, he could be described as the archetypal aromatherapist.
According to one legend, he brought a bouquet of beautiful lotuses to the aging Ra to ease his suffering. As a result, he was described in the Pyramid Texts as "the lotus blossom which is before the nose of Ra". He may have originally been considered to be an aspect of Atum. According to one version of the creation story of the Ennead in Heliopolis, Nefertum (translated as beautiful Atum, or perfect Atum) was born from a blue lotus bud which emerged from the waters of Nun at the beginning of creation.
Atum represented the sun and so Nefertum represented the sunrise. He cried because he was alone and his tears created humanity. It was thought that he was born with every sunrise, matured into Atum during the day before passing into the world of the dead every sunset. The cycle of birth in the morning and death every evening (as the sun travelled through the underworld) represented the daily struggle between Chaos and Order (Ma´at). When Atum was absorbed by Ra (Atum-Ra), Nefertum came to be considered as a seperate deity, still closely associated with the newborn sun. Then Ptah was promoted to the chief national god and proclaimed the ultimate creator, and Nefertum was described as his son by either Sekhmet or Bast (both "Daughters of Ra"). However, as the son of Ptah, he also became patron of the perfume and healing arts derived from flowers. Thus, Nefertum was seen as both an aspect of the sun god, and also his grandson. He was also linked to rebirth, both as a personification of the newborn sun and as the patron of many of the necessary ingredients of the mummification process. A passage of the Book of the Dead says the blessed dead will
"Rise like Nefertum from the lotus, to the nostrils of Ra, and come forth upon the horizon each day".
The Egyptian pantheon is particularly huge and fluid, with a wide variety of deities entering and exiting each other's myths.
Nefertum used to be depicted as a beautiful young man wearing a lotus headdress, sometimes standing on the back of a lion.
Occasionally he wears a headdress with two feathers and two necklace weights that were fertility symbols associated with Hathor (who in turn was closely associated with the two goddesses described as his mother, Sekhmet and Bast).
He was sometimes depicted as a man with the head of a lion or as a reclining lion or cat. In this form, he was associated with the lion god Maahes, who may have been his brother, but may also have been an aspect of Nefertum. Like the newborn sun, he was generally depicted as a beautiful baby sitting on a lotus bud. Sometimes his body was shown wrapped like a mummy, with his arms and face unbound. He also had a lion or cat shape, attributed to his mother. He was also depicted as a human head emerging from a large water lily.
For the ancient Egyptians, however, with their holistic understanding of the universe, fragrances and perfumes were not only beautiful, but were also spiritual and therapeutic.
The Blue Lotus
The lotus flower flourishes on the banks of the Nile. It opens its large petals with the rising of the sun. To the ancient Egyptians it represented the sun because it banished darkness. Blue Lotus played a unique and important role in Ancient Egyptian culture. The plant was widely popular for its mood enhancing and mild psychedelic properties. Used both recreational and for spiritual effects, they often made a concoction out of Blue Lotus and wine.
This flower has even been placed alongside the deceased in ancient tombs. The plant is often depicted on walls and paintings as well, often depicted together with wine.
The Blue Lotus was even the symbol for the union of Upper and Lower Egypt. Commonly used in art as a symbol of Upper Egypt. It was often shown with its long stems intertwined with papyrus reeds (a symbol of Lower Egypt) as a representation of the unification of the two lands.
For the Ancient Egyptians, The Blue Lotus represented how the sky greeted the sun. Just as the sun rises above the horizon to start the day, the flower opens in the morning. Then just when the sun is setting, the flower closes itself at dusk. And because of this, the Egyptians coined the Blue Lotus the sacred flower of the sun and sun gods.
As this symbol means also the creation and rebirth, the lotus is a fixed part of tomb and coffin decoration, often in combination with the scarab, which has similar symbolic meaning.
If you want to learn more about national flowers visit my blog
Aromatic Journal of an Olfaction Trainer
by Maria Rodriguez Genna
One of the exercises during Creezy Courtoy’s olfactory training course was to be fully conscious of our sense of smell and to note our progression everyday. It was an interesting experience being purposely smelling everything to train my nose.
First day: What I recognized is the smell of skin. Clean skin, dirty skin, also my little daughter received a vaccine so I smelled her arm and I noticed a change in her natural scent, not long afterwards, but it was more noticeable the next day. On the street I smelled the salty air, the fresh green aroma of the trees, the gasoline obnoxious scents from the traffic.
Second day: I tried smelling ice, although it just smells like water, practically inodorous, the cool feeling has an effect on the nose. This cold scent is difficult to describe. It’s fresh, cold, sharp, almost metallic or even gassy like smelling nitrogen or helium. I didn’t go out for many days because my daughter became ill with fever for days due to the vaccine and I had to stay home to take care of her. So I did experiments with what I had around me at home, like laundry, cleaning items, medicines, etc.
Third day: I did a different exercise, I used imagery to recall or remember how a scent smelled. Like the sea and the beach, or for example amber notes, how a cake would smell,etc.
I also used images like paintings and tried to imagine how colors would relate to scents, for examples amber notes, the color already tells us of possibly resinous, heavy notes or even honeyed, white can be powdery, heady aromas, narcotic. So it was like trying to smell a painting.
Fourth day: I tried imagining what notes would have a perfume I’d like to create, and if they would harmonize. When I imagined the notes, the scents came to mind, like a faint sketch of a drawing, with colors and scents. I would need materia prima for experimenting with these notes and to corroborate if my imagination was correct and they are harmonious or not.
Fifth day: I quickly went to pick a package to the post office but with masks it’s difficult to smell much, only this cottony artificial scent it has, very unpleasant. They smell a lot like hospital sanitizer. It’s an interesting observation, how if we are very distracted with chores or if we go out but are thinking about something while we walk, we tend to lose the scents, because our attention is overpowered by thoughts and our other senses. This is something I’m trying to train myself to, because very easily my other senses overpower my nose, unless of course I close my eyes or try to consciously smell, with intention and full attention.
Last day: Noses can get accustomed to some smells, that is an observation.
I need to focus on something different for a few minutes, then I can revisit certain smells to be able to analyze them. My dry allergic nose doesn’t help either. So much pollen in the air, it can be smelled and it makes the throat and nose powdery and itchy. I will keep training because I’m very used to daily scents, that they disappear into the background. Usually opening a window helps, I notice it moves scents around and that makes my brain perceive them better.
I’m trying to train my nose to human skin odor. Just like I can recognize my little daughter’s natural skin scent, I’m trying to consciously remember or discreetly smell people close to me,to see if I can learn their unique aroma. It would be like taking an aromatic photograph to remember them. So far, I’m being successful with people that are very close to me.
The challenge is to smell different people and without them noticing -hahaha- but it’s an interesting anthropologic experiment. There’s someone I know, a really good friend, that smells incredibly good and it’s not perfume but natural scent. So all this research made by Creezy Courtoy about gorillas is starting to make sense, how they can recognize each other by scent, chose healthy future partners, etc. For someone in this field it is normal musings, but for the rest of the world it is politically incorrect so I have to be cautious if I will be training with human species. Gorillas would appreciate me getting to know them by scent much more!
Lancement du livre et conférence le 26 Mai 2018