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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Black Mysterious

By Marian

Many “Arabian” attars are variations on the oud, rose and musk drama and when I first became enamored of “Eastern” scents I never tired of experiencing the mystery and exoticness of those three notes. Gradually I’ve been learning to distinguish between the different types of roses that sweeten and sensualize the blends- the citrus-y sparkle of Isparta rose, the billowing opulence of Bulgarian damascenes, the elegant clarity of Rosa alba and the smooth zestiness of the rare and exquisite Taif’I rose, first cultivated in Arabia during the Ottoman empire. I’ve developed a preference for mukhallats (mixtures) featuring ouds from Cambodia or India – the Cambodians exhibiting a lush and bountiful fruitiness, the Indians a stately strength or animalic intensity- and have gradually began to appreciate how a subtle change in the amount or nature of any individual component can hugely effect the feeling, and my enjoyment of, the perfume.

Recently I received a sample of Black Mysterious perfume oil. In this unique and modern composition the perfumer has chosen to combine natural ingredients not usually found in “Arabian” perfumes with the classic oud, rose and musk trio. Despite this innovation Black Mysterious embodies the deep and dark seductiveness I’ve come to associate with “Oriental” oils. It encapsulates the scents of a caravan- the dense smokiness of star-wrapped campfires, the dagger sharpness of pepper-filled saddlebags, the leathery punch of camel hides and the voluptuous scents of rose, indolic white flowers and sweet balsamic resins that have been traded along the Silk Road for the last 3,000 years. The traditional elements are all there but they are embellished with a welcome and unusual twist. And, the notes aren’t the only surprise- although this perfume starts out with an almost aggressive, resinous assertiveness, it dries down into a soft, floral and woody gentleness that’s quite demure in its delicacy.

Aluwwah carries an enticing selection of mukhallats, attars and raw perfume ingredients traditionally used in Middle Eastern perfumes. They also stock high quality agarwood that, when burned, can be used to perfume your home and clothes for special occasions.

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36 Comments:

Blogger Marina said...

So I guess I would like Indian more, right? Love that barnyard stench in ouds :)

8:30 AM EST  
Anonymous Victoria said...

Sounds very interesting. I myself love mukhallats and whenever I am in India, I try to squeeze in some perfume shopping.
The best ouds and mukhallats I have smelled were in Oman. Amazing quality!

9:25 AM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Marina- If you DO love that barnyard stench, Indian is the way to go!

9:51 AM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Victoria- I so envy your travel experiences. I'd love to visit both of those places. Hopefully those trips are in my future.

9:52 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marian's review leaves me wanting to place all these scents side by side to experience the distinctions she mentions and to attend to the different notes in the scent she describes. I feel like I am on the Silk Road with stars, saddlebags, and scents--and that kind of feeling is what both words and perfumes are intended to convey. Thank you, Marian!

10:19 AM EST  
Blogger Anu said...

What a wonderful article Marian! It makes me want to run right out or rather, log-on immediately, to acquire this beautiful scent.

10:23 AM EST  
Blogger Sonya said...

What a decidedly seductive education on ouds and mukhallats. Marian is like a private perfume nose delivering secret treasures of wisdom into your ear. When will you be teaching a class? I can't wait!

10:46 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a heavenly education. Thank you for mentioning a source to start experimenting. Have you ever tried scenting your clothes this way? sounds divine...
Cheryl

11:13 AM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Anonymous- Thank you! I particular appreciate that this perfume incorporates other than the usual ingredients. I feel very unconventional when I wear it!

11:23 AM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Anu- it's definitely a "dare to be different" scent! There are MANY treasures on Aluwwah's website. If you like ambergris and rose you might consider giving Bahratul Baydha a try.

11:27 AM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Sonya- Thank you! I'd love to TAKE a class! There's so much to learn in the fascinating and miraculous world of natural perfumes. I know I've only just scratched the surface.

11:29 AM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Cheryl- When the oils are put on cloth they last an incredibly long time. Some of the oils stain so I try to find an inconspicuous place to dab a drop, like inside my neckline - that way it's easy to catch whiffs of it throughout the day. Sometimes I apply a smidge to a little piece of cloth which I tuck inside my decollete.
I've also burned pieces of agarwood and bakhoor (wood or tablets scented with perfumed oil) to scent my rooms and clothes. It's especially nice to do this before the arrival of guests, as is the tradition in the ME. When I've burned some agarwood in my closet the scent lasts for a few days. I love opening the door and being greeted by the enticing scent!

11:50 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really a great review Marian.
I wish you would post more reviews on here, your eastern 'journeys' make my nose curious for the many intoxicating oriental fragrances.

Raj

12:35 PM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Thanks, Raj. I'm glad you enjoy reading them!

12:41 PM EST  
Blogger Carrie Meredith said...

Fascinating review, Marian, thank you for that peek into Black Mysterious.

1:11 PM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

You're welcome, Carrie. I'm looking forward to checking out more of Aluwwah's perfumes. Abobakr, a more traditional scent, is also very nice. All the men I've showed it to really love it but I think women can wear it without a problem.

2:06 PM EST  
Anonymous NBL said...

Mmm, I loved the description of this perfume. Marian, please consider writing a book!

2:29 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting! I'm off to check out Aluwwah's website now!

3:50 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most compelling perfume review I've ever read, partly because the reviewer clearly knows what she's talking about.
– Dana

4:24 PM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Dana- I think that all the reviewers on this website are extremely knowledgable, and they're all far more knowledgeable than I am when it comes to everything scented outside of the little oud nook in which I feel the most comfortable. I feel truly privileged to be a part of this especially scent-educated community.

5:47 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have introduced me to words unknown. But even though I am limited, your writing is so intense and descriptive that I truly am able to enjoy the scents as I read. Let's do India. Claire

9:08 PM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Claire- some of Aluwwah's raw ingredients are imported directly from India. Having purchased some of them I can attest to their quality. I'd love to visit India- I'm sure it would be a sensory overload but one which I'd relish. Let's talk! :-)

9:27 PM EST  
Anonymous Evan said...

I love a lot of scents, but in particular I love the primeval combination of rose and oud. Even though it's a common blend in Arabian perfumes, it never fails to captivate me whenever I smell it.

Judging by your description then, this "Mysterious" blend seems to have been expressly tailored for someone like me -- perhaps exponentially so. I can't wait to sample it. Thank you for such a clear and evocative review!

11:58 PM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Evan- I, too, love rose and oud, but I also appreciate something a little wild. If you get a chance to sample Black Mysterious I hope you'll share your thoughts.

12:00 AM EST  
Anonymous hongkongmom said...

Hi Marian

Thanks for a gorgeous review. Forgive my brain but does the mukhallat have the three ingredients, or does it have a different addition. I tried to find it on the website, to no avail.

On another issue, perhaps you can help me on this United Emirated fragrance(attar) that my husband bought me at the dubai airport

Al Hunaidi(brand name)-SAMAH(attar name)
many thnks

12:28 AM EST  
OpenID olfactoriastravels.com said...

How interesting! Thank you, Marian! This is an area I have absolutely no experience with, your review is so very evocative and makes me dream about all these foreign, far-away places and their smells.

3:58 AM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Hongkongmom- it has those 3 ingredients but other 'secret" ingredients as well, so it smells unlike any other mukhallat I've tried.
I'm sorry that I can't help you with your perfume but I found this email address for the company:
shksaeed AT emirates DOT net DOT ae
Perhaps you could try emailing them and asking?
Good luck!

9:04 AM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Thanks, Olfactoriastravels! I dream about them, too, and would love to visit some of the big perfume houses, and also the perfume sellers in the bazaars. Maybe someday.......... :-)

9:06 AM EST  
Blogger Dixie said...

Thank you for such an informative review. You make want to try all of these!

11:32 AM EST  
Anonymous bevfred said...

I wish you would do a primer of middle eastern scents. I love oud and would enjoy exploring further, but my budget is not huge and most of the fragrances I've looked at online are pretty pricey, particularly for something unsniffed. Do you know if there are any shops in Toronto that sell these kind of scents?
I truly appreciate your reviews.

12:52 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once upon a time in a land faraway I was masquerading as an Arabian Nights "Malika".

Marian has an intriguing way of conjuring up the scents and sensibilities of long forgotten escapades.

I almost believe they're real again . . . so seductive are these scenes painted by the aromatic "Arabian" perfumes and "Oriental" oils.

4:26 PM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

bevfred- In addition to Aluwwah dot com I strongly recommend that you visit the website of AgarAura dot com. They carry many quality oils that are priced more reasonably than other Internet sellers. Also, you can purchase samples from them without having to make a huge investment in a blind buy. I don't know any brick and mortar stores in Toronto, though. Enfluerage, in NYC, carries a small selection of pure ouds, so if you visit NYC that' s something to put on your list.
I hope you find something you like that's reasonably priced!

5:34 PM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

Dixie and Anonymous- many thanks! I'm wondering, myself, what mysteries are still waiting to be discovered!

5:37 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

You're killing me here, Marian, I really want this! It's so funny, this former "flower girl" is now so in love with spices, incense, leather, oud and "barnyard" perfumes! :-)

11:12 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marian, your remarkable descriptive ability has captured the scent of Black Mysterious and enabled the aroma to permeate your posting. Thanks for the chance to experience this intriguing perfume oil!

6:58 PM EST  
Anonymous Michael Rad said...

mmmmm this gets me excited for our upcoming trip to india!! lovely post marian!

7:57 AM EST  

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