The Scented History of Oudh Perfume
Oudh, also known as “woods of gods” is the basis of one of the most prized fragrances in the world with an intoxicating musky scent. Thus, the perfume is also called the “Black Gold” or “liquid gold” in the Middle East. It has been used from thousands of years in the Middle East and throughout Asia in various forms of wooden chips, oils, and perfumes. The healing properties of Oudh have made it synonymous to hospitality in Arab.
If we take a look back at the history of Oudh, then it has been described in various religious texts and has a different history in reference to different religions. Take a look at the historical aspects of Oudh concerning Islamic texts and what prevails in the Middle East or Arabic peninsula in this blog today. Let’s start.
Oudh in Islamic Text
When we talk about the Islamic texts, the origin is the Qur’an, you will find references to aromatics but none specifically devoted to agarwood. However, in several Hadith, which is a report of the words, actions, or tacitly approved by the prophet Muḥammad, agarwood or Oudh is referred to as a kind of Indian incense (i.e., Ūd Al- Hindi or aloes). Also, Abu Huraira, one of the sahabah of prophet Muhammad is quoted describing Paradise where, agarwood would be used in their incense burner according to the explanation given by Hadith (Sahih al-Bukhari 3327, Book 60, Hadith 2; USC-MSA English reference Vol. 4, Book 55, Hadith 544).
Apart from this, the Oudh or agarwood usage is recommended by Prophet Muhammad as a medical treatment as it can be used as a remedy for issues like swollen uvula and another for pleurisy according to Hadith (Sahih al-Bukhari 5692, 5693, Book 76, Hadith 15; USC-MSA English reference Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 7, Book 71, Hadith 596, 613; Sunan Abi Dawud 3877, Book 29, Hadith 23; English translation Book 28, Hadith 3868).
Moreover, the prophet Muhammad counsels men and women to use fragrance. Men should bath and perfume themselves for the Friday sermon at the mosque. Women may use perfume at their homes and they both can perfume themselves during sexual intimacy (Thurkill 2009). Here the perfume that the prophet Muhammad is referring to is the scent of aloes or a combination of aloes and camphor (Book 27 no. 5601) (Sahih Muslim).
History of Usage in the Middle East
When it comes to the usage of Oudh or agarwood, we can say that it was one of the revered aromatics in the Arab world. You will find its reference in many ancient documents about its usage as a medicine and as a perfume (Zohar and Lev 2013). For instance, in one of the texts called al-Kindī’s (801–807 C.E.), which is also known as the Book of the Chemistry of Perfume, you will find five recipes for a perfume that had agarwood. Also, Ibn Mᾱsawahī’s (777–857 C.E.), which is a book On Simple Aromatic Substances agarwood was categorised as a principal perfume, you will find its reference cited in Zohar and Lev 2013. The two compound perfumes that were expensive and had musk, aloes and amber were nadd and ghāliya.
The Ain-i-Akbari describes the dominance of Persian Muslim culture in India, which is modern-day Middle east. It contains detailed accounts of Oudh products and preparation.
Apart from this, you will find endless references quoting the use of Oudh perfume and its preparations in the Middle East and other cultures.
We can say that steeped in exotic luxury and local Arabic traditions, Oudh has been alluring people all across the globe. The Middle East has recently witnessed a transformation in their lifestyle and taste and; thus, they have come with different forms of Oudh. It is ranging from oils to perfumes and even hand sanitisers in today’s context. If you are looking to experience the same luxury, and want to try different preparations, shop from Al Haramain.