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Ancient Persian Perfume History

Ancient Persian Perfume History

Like many other ancient civilizations, the Persians were also enchanted by the concept of perfume and fragrance. The sheer decadence and luxury of perfume was lost on them, and they contributed to its popularity massively.

Use of Perfumes in Ancient Persia

The Persians were innovators, and they decided to build on the knowledge of the Egyptians and the Romans. Not only were they expert traders of fragrance for more a century, they were also the ones to tweak the recipe for perfume that was commonly used until then and come up with a new formula. They invented non oil-based perfume, the predecessor of modern perfume concoctions. Needless to say, that caused quite a stir because scented products were considered incomplete without emollients until then.

Development of Perfumery in Persia

The Persians were highly invested in the manufacture of infused waters and fragrance during the Sassanid period. They also considered perfume to be a symbol of wealth and status, much like other ancient civilisations. Persian nobles used expensive perfume to make a statement.

The modern-day concept of having a signature scent might have also originated in Persia. Many kings often adopted a signature scent and forbade people around them from using it. For example, King Persepolis Darius is accompanied by his perfume bottles in his depictions on stone images.

The Achaemenian period saw the Persians lean into the tradition of creating a fragrant space. They wanted to have a pleasant atmosphere with the sweetest of aromas, which led to the burning of incense and other scented materials. There are records of orators of the time talking about the spraying of perfumes during royal receptions and festivities.

Perfume Production in Persia

Ancient Persians had access to proper perfume-making equipment that made it easier for them to devise new types of fragrances. Persia also had plenty of fragrance-making workshops. They harnessed the spirit of experimentation and tried out new distillation processes. Not only were they focused on increasing the variety of scents, but they were also keen to streamline the production for easier availability.

According to multiple sources, Persians had a fondness for plants and sweet-smelling flowers that were often used in the preparation of perfumes. Their love for fragrant products like incense made it impossible for them not to embrace perfumes.

Ancient Persia supported the cultivation of different flora that allowed them to obtain important perfume ingredients like rose water. They also had access to musk and ambergris that facilitated the production of incense.

The widespread cultivation of plants and flowers in Fars meant that there was freedom to even come up with new varieties of the same that would enhance the production of perfume further. Iranian and Muslim geographers have mentioned an elegant, sweet flower born out of the efforts made by Iranian gardeners called "esporghami", which is popularly known as Lily of the Valley. The fact that it continues to be one of the most popular ingredients in modern perfumery is a testament to the brilliance of the Persian perfumers who were much ahead of their time.

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