DE3 Fragrance Vol. 43 • January 2018 | Perfumer & Flavorist www.PerfumerFlavorist.com
taking shelter under the aquilaria trees due to excess
deforestation. While Assam’s agarwood is generally sweet, animalic, fruity and smoky, region and
maturity also play a role in determining agarwood’s
fragrance, just like it is with tea,” Bakshi explains.
He believes that while the color of agarwood oil
deepens with age, its fragrance and color can vary
with every batch. The market for Indian agarwood
has now extended beyond the Middle East, to North
and South America and Europe.
The Arab World
The Arabs are famed for their fierce passion for
oud. Right from the beginning of Islam, oud has
been a part of Arab daily life. There are “hadith”
or prophetic sayings in Islam that speak about
oud and its benefits. Theologians believe that the
Prophet Muhammad not only used oud himself but
also recommended its usage to his followers for its
spiritually elevating aromas and health benefits.
Using oud is thus considered “sunnah” or prophetic tradition.
Indian oud (“oud al Hindi”) has been a favorite
of the Arabs followed by Cambodian oud (“oud
Kambodi”). More than other regions of the Muslim
world, oud flows like water in the Gulf—the Arab
world’s wealthiest region—where it is not just a
fragrance but a way of life.
Pure oud oil is called “dehn al oud” (fat of the
wood) in Arabic. As exorbitant as it can get, oud oil
with its formidable aroma has enchanted the Arabs
who not only wear it on their bodies and clothes, but
the men also often smear it in their beards, and the
women, in their hair.
Since alcohol is “haraam" or forbidden in Islam,
non-alcoholic oil concentrates called attar have
been a part of Islamic tradition, although many
modern Arab brands also sell perfume sprays. Arabic
attars are generally known to be audacious, woody,
spicy and warm with a strong oud note. The word
Traditional Arabic oud-based attars in ornate bottles. Photo courtesy of the author.