Book

Sandalwood and Carrion

James McHugh

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199916306
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980260 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199916306.001.0001
Sandalwood and Carrion

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This book explores the topic of smell in pre-modern Indian religion and culture. The book provides a comprehensive study of all aspects of smell, covering a period from the turn of the Common Era to the early second millennium CE, and referring to a wide range of sources from poetry to medical texts. In pre-modern South Asia, smells mattered. The sophisticated arts of perfumery that developed in temples, monasteries and courts relied on exotic aromatics, connecting olfactory aesthetics to long-distance ocean trade. A sophisticated religious discourse on the goals of life emphasized that the pleasures of the senses were a valid end in themselves. Fragrances and stinks were also an ideal model for describing other values, be they aesthetic or ethical, and in a system where karmic results often had a sensory impact—where evil often literally stank—the ethical and aesthetic are often difficult to distinguish. Sandalwood and Carrion explores smell in pre-modern India from many perspectives, covering such topics as philosophical accounts of smell perception, odors in literature, the history of perfumery in India, the significance of sandalwood in Buddhism, as well as the question of why people offered perfumes to the gods.

Keywords: smell; India; South Asia; perfume; incense; sandalwood; Hinduism; Buddhism

Book.  368 pages. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Sandalwood and Carrion

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Earth, Wind, Foul and Fragrant in Sandalwood and Carrion

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Lotus, Fish, and Cows in Sandalwood and Carrion

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Moon Juice and Uproar in Sandalwood and Carrion

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Sandalwood in Sandalwood and Carrion

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Bois des Îles in Sandalwood and Carrion

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The Toilette of the Gods in Sandalwood and Carrion

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