Allies, Enemies, and <i>Yakṣa</i> Mud

James McHugh

in Sandalwood and Carrion

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199916306
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980260 | DOI:
Allies, Enemies, and Yakṣa Mud

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What were perfumes and incense actually like and what did people do with them? This chapter explores the theory and practice of perfumes. Medieval South Asians did not talk of “top notes” and “base notes”, but of “allies” and “enemies” in the structure of a perfume. Perfumes ranged from simple pastes of sandalwood and saffron to complex oils containing dozens of ingredients subject to numerous processes. The chapter also analyzes a literary episode involving a perfume-addicted, love-sick prince as a case study to confirm and to complicate what we have learned so far about the uses and meanings of smells and perfumes in medieval South Asia.

Keywords: perfume; incense; garland; perfumery; Manasollasa; erotics

Chapter.  10331 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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