The perfume industry is worth billions of dollars word wide and it offers buyers plenty of options to express their personality. An interesting new trend is the popularity of Oud based scents, some of which are extremely costly. However, this ingredient is not very well known outside of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures even though it has a very unique and strong fragrance.

Oud is a very costly wood resin that is created when a specific type of tree is attacked by mold. The tree in question is the Aquilaria which grows in Middle Eastern countries, China, Japan and even Vietnam. The resin is not ready for extraction until it has matured fully and turns dark brown or black in color; this process generally takes several hundred years. The lengthy maturity period and the fact that it is produced by a specific tree that is limited to certain areas makes Oud a very costly ingredient. The diminishing forest cover in the countries it is native to means that supply of this fragrant resin is under threat.

Its resin has a wonderful and powerful fragrance that lasts for a very long time. As a matter of fact, the resin which is also known as Eucalyptus Oil has been used by man  time immemorial. It is heated in braziers in order to give a room a good scent and to aid in meditation In addition, the tree resin is boiled and the liquid is then distilled to create pure Oud oil. This distinctively fragrant oil is extremely costly and it goes for hundreds of dollars for every ounce.

Oud, or Agarwood or Aloes Wood, has been used for thousands of years and it has even been mentioned in the Bible. It is also known as the Wood of Gods. It has predominantly been used as incense and even for medicinal purposes in Middle Eastern cultures. There are also many traditional perfumes that contain oil distilled from Oud.

These days, however, many famous Western perfumers are showing a great deal of interest in this resin because of its unique aroma. As a result, there are quite a few perfumes that feature this product. In fact, there is growing demand for these fragrances on account of their uniqueness. Unlike traditional Oud scents, the contemporary ones are blended with other scents to downplay the strength of Oud and create a wonderful scent overall that appeals to modern sensibilities.

A World of Perfume

For thousands of years perfumes had been widely used in the middle and Far East.

Myrrh and Frankincense, the gifts the wise men gave to the baby Jesus, were more expensive than gold.

Perfumes were worn by both male and females; also dead bodies were anointed with scented oils.

The ancient Egyptians believed that the body was a sacred part of a three-tiered existence and therefore should be a pleasant place for the dead person’s soul to return to. Although the Egyptians made perfumes from locally produced ingredients, they did import different varieties from other countries. These were very expensive and so were only used for the gods. Frankincense was coveted by the Egyptians who could not grow it because of their climate.

The Greeks, unlike the Egyptians, used exotic perfumes and oils as aphrodisiacs. Whilst the Egyptians mostly used perfumes and oils for ceremonial and burial purposes.

In biblical times, the tradition of anointing bodies of both the living and the dead were common place amongst the Hebrews, in which perfumes and spices were used.

The English word ‘anoint’ comes from the French word ‘enoint’, which means ‘smeared on’. In the bible Aaron was anointed with oil poured upon his head. This act of anointing emphasizes that the anointed one is taken from this depraved world to a new kingdom and elected into God’s family.

In the Hindu religion, the cow is a most sacred beast and the butter from the milk of the cow is used for anointing.

The Chinese ancient routes brought, amongst other wares, musk and other perfumes.

The ancient Chinese had and still have today, perfume pouches also called sasays, which they carried to ward off evil spirits and for longevity.

About the 6th Century the Chinese had incense clocks in which they could place incense sticks or powdered incense. These types of clocks were also used by the Japanese.

The ingredients in the Chinese incense, is made, most commonly, from agarwood, sandalwood, benzoin resin, Chinese incense-cedar, camphor, frankincense, cloves, star anise and cinnamon.

There exists a deep cultural affinity to perfume in China which connects to nature and beauty through the sense of smell and perfume.

Hundreds of years ago in the UK, and possibly Europe, if you can possibly imagine what it was like, everyone ponged like mad. I presume, of course, that because everyone smelt the same, no one cared! Nobody bathed, as the general consensus of opinion was, that water carried diseases and should not be applied to the body by bathing or to even drink it and that hot water would open the pores letting in diseases especially bubonic plague. Mmm, I think some of the younger males of my family, still believe in this theory!!! In fact, some of the poorer classes went the whole of their lifetime without ever having had a bath!

Hair was never washed, so wigs were used instead.

Today we have large selections of fabulous perfumes to choose to apply to our own bodies. Scented candles, room diffusers, incense sticks and various essential oils placed in oil burners to make our homes smell fragrant and arouse the senses. We can have relaxing massages with lovely scented essential oils which have benefits of well-being.