The use of perfumes has a history thousands of years old. The word perfume is actually derived from the Latin word per fume which means "through smoke". Aroma was traditionally used originally as the burning of incense and herbs in religious ceremonies. Egyptians were the first to incorporate perfume aroma into their culture followed by many other cultures at that time. Egyptians also invented perfume bottles and the glass used to make the bottles was the most common use for glass in their culture. Perfume bottles used by the Egyptians date as< far back as 1000 BC. Some of their favorite oils were of cinnamon and honey. They also extracted oils from flowers to anoint their bodies with.
Persians also made handcrafted perfumes extensively. The ability to scent yourself attractively was a sign of your rank in society. In the homes belonging to the wealthy, one could find exquisite gardens holding jasmine, lilacs, violets, and their favorite red rose. The red rose was famous for it's increased scent as the flower dried. A modern example is Angel Perfume made of vanilla, sandalwood and patchouli. Persians even preserved them in closed earthenware pots to be opened for their fabulous perfume during special occasions.
The early Greeks also understood the power of perfume. Alexander the Great used them extensively and it is said that he even placed scented water on his floors as well as on his clothing. This adoration of scent was steeped in their religion. It was believed that a god invented scents and that when this particular god or goddess visited you, a wonderful perfume was left behind as a reminder of their visit. In classic book "Ulysses" Homer writes of anointing dead bodies with essential oils, obviously further placing these perfumes in a religious context.
The Romans first celebrated scent in 750 BC to celebrate the goddess of Flora. This occurred when the first flowers of spring appeared. This celebration was adopted by the British and is celebrated to this day as May Day. Romans, as did most societies, used scent for religious ceremonies. Most homes had gardens from which maidens adored their hair with the thick perfume of the plants grown there. The practice of shaving men's beards started in Rome and after the shave the face would be rubbed with perfumed oils. These perfumed oils developed into cologne. In banquet rooms used by the Romans, aromatic vines would be grown throughout the room to give their dinners an pleasant scent.
While these cultures used perfumes and oils extensively, when reading almost any account of history you will find that perfume has been used for thousands of years in almost every culture, either for religious use, for anointing the body or both.
In today's society you can purchase discounted fragrances cheaply online from the comfort of your home. This is an excellent way to shop for holidays, mother's day or father's day gifts. One of the most popular fragrances is Angel perfume. Other top sellers are L'air Du Temps, Safari, Light Blue and Shalimar.
|© 1990-2005 Donald J. Mabry / The Historical Text Archive|