Perfume, if you ask me, is a very intimate matter. But today I chose to address this topic. This issue with perfumes is relative and I say this because it’s possible that what I like doesn’t suit you, maybe vice versa. Precisely for this reason I will never categorize that a perfume worn by someone else as bad, smelling odd, too sweet or who knows what other characteristic. But I say let’s go through the history of perfume.
This concept has been known for thousands of years. As I said in the article of the History and Evolution of Makeup, perfumes have been used since Ancient Egypt to remove unpleasant odors. But from the documentation I did I discovered that besides Ancient Egypt, the perfume was known both in Cyprus and Mesopotamia. Throughout history you will be able to notice that the perfume has had several uses. Because hygiene was poor, I discovered that in France, royal faces used perfumes to hide the smell while the ladies of high English society used pleasant smells in order to seduce.
The word perfume comes from the Latin word “through smoke“. If we talk about the antiquity of the history of perfume, it can be as old as that of mankind. After the Ancient Egyptians discovered this concept, they were followed by Chinese, Hindus, Israelis and so on ’till they reached the Ancient Romans. As our archeological excavation always bear witness, relics about 4 000 years old have been discovered in Cyprus; and about 3 000 years old is a wedge-shaped tablet from Mesopotamia that attests to the fact that the first registered perfume manufacturer was a woman named Tapputi.
This perfume maker, Tapputi, used, around 1200 BC, oils, flowers, cypress and myrrh to combine them and obtained aromatic oils after distillation. This was and is the first perfumer left in history to develop original methods of distilling perfumes and many consider her the first chemist woman.
In ancient times, perfumes had a different meaning, so to speak. It is considered that these aromatic oils had the gift of defending the one who whore them, and for the people of antiquity they also represented worshipers brought to the gods. Aromatic oils were obtained from incense, basil or myrrh, which accopanied the offerings of the gods, which consisted of sacrificed animals.
We already know the ancient Egyptians are the “parents of perfume” but they are also the ones who invented the first bottle of perfume and religious oils rituals and the funeral ceremonies accompanied by them. According to some specialists, even in the Bible there is evidence of the existence of these perfumed oils. I suspect that it is not really foreign to us that in the New Testament it is related how Lazaru’s sister, Mary, annointed the Savior’s feet with myrrh.
Myths of Ancient Greece say that Venus and Cupid are “guilty” of the fact that today’s roses have perfume. It is said that by the sting of Venus the roses turned red and by the kiss of Cupid they acquired perfume. True or not this legend is very nice. The perfume industry really developed for the first time in Greece, from the information I discovered. Probably they are also the inventors of the “door to door” market nowadays, because this is how in the merchants of those times sold their goods. The great Greek perfumers went further with fragrant essences and obtained them from almonds, anise, lilies, roses and olive oil. Because the Greeks are very good traders, they took their work of art across, fragrant fountains were a symbol of luxury. Of course in the beginning only nobles and arristocrats used perfume.
Going a little through history and reaching the modern worlds, I discovered that in 1930, at the request of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, the first modern perfume was created and it was called ”Water of the Queen of Hungary”, based on rosemary. During the Renaissance, the famous Medici family went down in history as the largest consumers of fragrant essences. At that time Venice and Florence were the capitals of perfume. It is rumored that Catherine de Medici herself had a personal perfumer, originally French, named Renato from Florence. If we look at what the legends say about this Catherine of Medici, it would be said that she used perfumes for evil purposes, masking the poisons hidden in jewelry, under fragrant aromas.
In England things were a little different. Women of the time had on exaggerated appetite for perfumes and in 1770 Parliament enacted an act announcing the condemnation of women who used perfume in order to seduce men.
Today perfumes are not only used by women but also by men and have a wide range of flavours. In 1921 the best-selling perfume in the world was that of the fashion designer Chanel, who launched her own perfume brand called it Chanel no 5. The main essences of this perfume are May roses, jasmine and synthetic musk. The number 5 was not chosen at random, but because it was the fifth option proposed by the creator Ernest Beauxi and which she accepted.
Whether a person uses perfumes as an air freshener to make their home to smell better or to seduce the object of their affection, keep in mind the very long and interesting history of this little scented miracle. As with many other “modern” things, we owe a debt of gratitude to our ascentors who, using very primitive instruments, were able to turn simple items into the marvelous fragrances we enjoy today. We should applaud them for that. There’s nothing wrong with having the world small and little sweeter.
Sources: Elisabeth Bouleanu’s article- ”The history of perfumes, from the origins to the present.” Picture: Pinterest by Lisa Maree