My mother-in-law rubbed a chunk of pink coloured wooden on a tough stone till it turned to stick. My husband and I had been about to journey again to Europe, and within the Hindu customized, my mother-in-law carried out a puja, an act of worship, to make sure our secure journey. She lit joss sticks across the deities and dabbed among the paste on the collectible figurines of gods organized on her small altar after which on our foreheads. The perfume of sandalwood rose within the heat air. Many hours later as I sat on the airplane, the creamy, floral fragrance lingered round me, carrying with it the reminiscence of a caring contact.
In Indian work you may typically spot curious picture of snakes curving sensually round sandalwood timber. Based on legend, the tree releases such a wonderful scent that serpents are charmed by it. Greater than a lovely fragrant, sandalwood is a way to really feel nearer to the divine, for all creatures alike. That is the explanation why Vedic spiritual rites, from start to dying, are accompanied by this valuable wooden.
The draw back of such passionate love is the key overharvesting. Regardless of Indian authorities safety, sandalwood timber proceed to be illegally logged, and violent crime accompanies the contraband. Sandalwood is a parasitic tree from the identical botanical household as European mistletoe, and whereas it could develop shortly, it requires at the very least 15 years to build up the prized fragrant oils in its wooden. There have been efforts to determine new plantations, however whether or not the plush Mysore groves will regenerate as soon as once more stays to be seen.
Within the meantime Australia has taken the initiative to plant Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) alongside its native Santalum spicatum. The latter is the everyday sandalwood present in up to date perfumes, in the event that they certainly use pure, and never artificial, oils. Santalum spicatum smells sharper than the Indian selection, however as a part of a well-blended accord, it’s voluptuous and creamy. That is the sandalwood in Tom Ford’s Santal Blush and Le Labo Santal 33.
A sandalwood gold customary in French perfumery is Guerlain Samsara. Samsara, which is Sanskrit for ‘wheel of life’, is so radiant that it’s laborious to think about that it’s composed of 40% sandalwood. The pure sandalwood essence is buttery and wealthy, and to present it shimmer and a lighter texture, Jean-Paul Guerlain used Polysantol, a sandalwood artificial that was nonetheless a novelty in 1989, the yr Samsara was launched. For all of its baroque complexity, Samsara appears gilded and ethereal.
For a sandalwood rendition nearer to the Indian traditions I choose Neela Vermeire Créations Trayee. Its substances had been drawn from Vedic texts—frankincense, agarwood, holy basil, myrrh, jasmine. It smells like an previous apothecary in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk abutting a temple and an attar lane. Trayee is a uncommon perfume that enables for the sort of aesthetic expertise described in India as rasasvadana, ‘the tasting of flavour’. Each stage of its improvement presents one thing new—a smouldering incense cinder, pores and skin dusted by jasmine pollen, a salty kiss, a flower providing.
One other sandalwood that jogs my memory of India is 10 Corso Como. The paradox is that the perfume was created for the trendy Milan boutique, whereas its spirit is nearer to Mumbai—spice markets, marigold garlands, and a contact of Colaba’s trendiness. The wedding between sandalwood and oud conjures up a trademark medicinal tang of Indian temple incense, whereas musk softens the perimeters.
These are the fragrances for occasions after I need intricate tales and thrilling adventures. On a gray wet day, nonetheless, when the clouds hold so low that they contact the pink rooftops of Brussels, I put on Serge Lutens’s Santal Majuscule. It’s delicately candy, with a heat, comforting end of sandalwood paste diluted in rosewater.
Do you might have a favourite sandalwood fragrance?
Images by Bois de Jasmin