The Origins of Oud
As we look forward to 2011 and observe what’s trending in the fragrance world, one would be have to be hard pressed not to notice all the talk about the scent of the moment- Oud. From Tom Ford to Bond, Kilian to Byredo; everyone is doing it. The exotic, heady, incense like aroma has captured our olfactory attention and it appears as though our fascination isn’t waning. As we dab, spray and sniff our way through this much talked about note, I had to ask myself: What is this mysterious essence, what is its significance and where does it come from?
Formed in the heart of the agarwood tree- a large evergreen indigenous to Southeast Asia; oud is produced in response to infection. Initially pale and light in color; the heartwood turns dense, dark and odiferous as a result of the growth of an insidious mold. The resin, pungent and rich has been revered for centuries for its unique and complex aroma.
As ancient Sanskrit writings will attest- oud has had cultural and religious significance for centuries. Known of course for its distinctive fragrance and thus highly regarded in perfume and incense making; the exotic essential oil has been used in Ayurvedic disciplines throughout history to treat such ailments such as leprosy, ulcers, arthritis, cough and even halitosis.
Cultivated, harvested and traded for thousands of years, the oleoresin we have come to know and love comes with a price- and a high one at that. Increasing demand and depleting resources has made oud not only costly, but extremely rare as well. So when your fashionable and curious nose begs you to venture out and try the all the various versions the perfume world has to offer- remember this: What you hold in your hand and what lingers on your skin is a piece of extraordinary magic that not only smells divine- it was once actually thought to be.