the asian heritage

its heritage character – the threefold treasury

 

Perfumery has hardly ever been acknowledged as a valuable heritage - especially perfumery arts outside of the Western world. However, Asia's treasury speaks for itself.

 

natural

  • Asia's extremely diverse climates and geographic features, resulting  in an enormous wealth of (fragrant) flora.

cultural

  • Landscapes and growing areas of raw materials.
  • Trade entrepôts with their distinctive infrastructure.

intangible (following the criteria of the UNESCO)

  • Representing practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith.
  • Recognized by communities, groups, and in some cases, individuals, as part of their cultural heritage.
  • Transmitted from generation to generation.
  • Constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history.
  • Providing with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

benchmarks

history

HISTORY OF ASIAN PERFUMERY ARTS

  • Appreciation of the fragrant landscape presumably since the beginning of Asian civilization and throughout Asia.
  • Provable origins of a 'handicraft' over 2–3,000 years ago.
  • Specialization of a perfumery art – i.e. skills of conserving and refining the aromatics as well as as appreciating them reverently – over the course of the centuries at exclusive locations.
  • Intracontinental transmission of materials, techniques and meanings via land and sea routes over the course of time – with the effect of exchange and mutual inspiration.
  • Notable entanglement with Western business activities since the 16th century.

resources

FAMOUS REPRESENTATIVES OF ASIA'S ENDEMIC AROMATIC RESOURCES

 

Agarwood – ambergris – basil – benzoin – birch – cajeput – camellia – camphor – cardamom – cassia – cedar – cinnamon – civet – cloves – conifer – coriander – cypress – elemi – eucalyptus – fenugreek – fir – frangipani – frankincense – galbanum – gallnuts – ginger – jasmine – kanuka – lemongrass – lily – litsea – magnolia – maple – musk – myrrh – neroli – nutmeg – osmanthus – palmarosa – patchouli – pepper – pine – rhododendron – rosemary – roses – saffron – sandalwood – shell hinges – spikenard – spruce – star anise – storax – tea tree – tuberose – tulsi – vetiver – yarrow – ylang-ylang.

feedstock

PARTS OF PLANTS THAT HOST AROMATIC MOLECULES

 

Balm – bark – blossom – fruit (peel) – grass – leaves – lichen – needle – resin – root – seeds – wood.

producing

EFFORTS TO PRODUCE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF AROMATIC GOODS

 

(1) RAW MATERIALS

  • growing
  • harvesting

(2) REFINED (PURE) GOODS

  • cleaning
  • washing
  • drying
  • carving
  • grinding
  • distilling
  • extracting

(3) REFINED MIXED PRODUCTS

  • blending
  • cooking
  • saturating

products

TYPICAL (NATURAL AND MAN-MADE) AROMATIC PRODUCTS

  • the natural surrounding as such
  • aromatic wood artefacts
  • fresh (parts of) plants (flowers, herbs, and other)
  • dried (parts of) plants (flowers, herbs and other)
  • powders
  • incense cake (as balls, cookies, soft sticks)
  • incense sticks (including a wood stick)
  • pastes
  • distillates
  • oils
  • cremes

using

SKILLS OF MAKING AROMATICS GIVE OFF THEIR FRAGRANCE

  • diffusing
  • boiling
  • censing

utensils

SELECT PERFUMERY UTENSILS

 

(1) PRODUCING

  • cooking pots
  • still
  • productional tools

(2) STORING

  • sstoring boxes

(3) APPRECIATING

  • sprinkler
  • censer
  • incense holder
  • fine boxes
  • fine cutlery
  • rack

intake

WAYS OF TAKING IN THE AROMATIC MOLECULES

  • inhalation
  • skin application
  • ingestion

appreciating

TRADITIONAL WAYS OF APPRECIATING FRAGRANCES REVERENTLY

  • Sensory appreciation of the natural atmosphere by full awareness.
  • Garden architecture.
  • Fragrant sacrifices to divine entities.
  • Noble gesture of respect and hospitality to the community.
  • Ritual appreciation of select olfactory notes for leisure and spiritual aims.
  • Therapeutic use of aromatics.
  • Flavoring food.

aesthetics

EXEMPLARY IDEALS AND CRITERIA (EACH ONE DESCRIBING A SPECIFIC CULTURE).

  • Naturalness (Eastern Asia)
  • Support of ritual purity (Islamic Asia).
  • Representation of Paradise (Central Asia).
  • Supporting harmony and balance of physical energies (South Asia).
  • Accompanied by visible smoke rising to the sky, or to the Gods respectively (Eastern Asia).

meaning

TRADITIONAL MEANING OF FRAGRANCES

  • Representing, symbolizing and supporting divine presence and energies.
  • Source of gaining spiritual insight and refining one's personality.
  • Signifying healthy conditions.
  • Supporting the maintenance of human health ('natural pharmacy').
  • Paying respect towards divine entitites as well as the community.

profession

PERFORMING THE PROFESSION

  • In the beginning: Everyday habit – overlap of cooking, hygienic care, and reverent devotional service.
  • Over the centuries: Hobby – especially among those populations living in the cultivation area of aromatic plants.
  • By time: Special profession – of herbalists, pharmacologists, therapists, spiritual masters, and perfumers.

changes

TODAY'S ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE AND THREATS

  • Integration into global markets of multinational enterprises especially since the 1990s.
  • Object of (international) patents.
  • A sizeable multi-billion dollar business.
  • Overexploitation and loss of natural resources.
  • Loss of local knowledge and traditional (sensory and production) skills.

therapeutic quality of (asian) aromatics

exemplary therapeutic effects:

anti-allergic, antidepressant, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, antiviral, bactericidal, disinfectant, epithelializing, facilitating concentration, fungicidal, harmonizing, immunomodulating, immunostimulating, mood-enhancing, mucolytic, neurotonic, secretolytic, sedative, spasmolytic, virucidal, vitalizing, and other

 

general Indications:

breathing, care, concentration, energy, immunity, metabolic processes, mood, psyche, skin, sleep, stress, vitality, and other

please, note:

  • The information above describes exclusively the appreciation of natural, pure, biologically produced aromatics, preferably directly in nature! (see here)
  • The list above – as sum – does not refer to every aromatic, but every aromatic has its own specific therapeutic potential, and the list above merely summarizes the range of therapeutic possibilities of aromatics!
  • Always consult a professional therapist!

 

today's threats

 

concerning society

  • Integration into global markets of multinational enterprises especially since the 1990s.
  • Object of (international) private patents.
  • A sizeable multi-billion dollar business.

 

       reinforcing profound changes concerning

  • consumption habits •  local sources of livelihood • international market flows • provision of therapeutic means • public healthcare •  distribution of knowledge

 

 

concerning nature

  • overconsumption
  • overexploitation

 

       plus:

  • climate changes
  • global population growth
  • industrial marketing
  • increase of consumer demands

 

       resulting in:

  • decrease of 'undeveloped' natural areas
  • mass cultivation
  • use of, and contamination with, pesticides and fertilizers

 

       leading to:

  • endangering, or threat with extinction, of species
  • decrease of biodiversity
  • loss of biological resources with their unique aromatic notes and character

 

 

concerning culture

  • loss of traditional olfactory knowledge
  • decline of olfactory sensitivity
  • loss of traditional perfumery skills

 

links for further research

You will find bibliographic ideas here:

 

 

 

perfumeryheritageofasia

SAFEGUARDING THE HERITAGE

 

Dr. phil. Dinah Jung

 

Email: heritage@mindful-breathing.com

Website:   www.mindful-breathing.com
 
c/o Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies
Prof. Dr. Harald Fuess
Karl-Jaspers-Centre, University of Heidelberg
Vossstr. 2
D - 69115 Heidelberg

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text and photos: © dr. phil. dinah jung, 2002–2020. all rights reserved. www.mindful-breathing.com.