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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Roksolana by Pavlo Zagrebelny and Rahat Loukoum by Serge Lutens

Roksolana. Written by Ukrainian writer Pavlo Zagrebelny, this is a story of Roksolana (approx. 1506-1558), also known as Haseki Hürrem Sultan, Rushen and La Rossa, who has been enslaved during raids by the Crimean Turks on Ukraine, and presented to the Ottoman palace. Intelligent, quick-witted and attractive, Hürrem became Süleyman the Magnificent’s most beloved wife. Her influence over him was proverbial. To ensure that one of her own sons would succeed to the throne, she did everything in her power to turn Süleyman against his eldest son and heir Mustafa. Roksolana advised her sultan on political matters and had an unusually influential role in politics and foreign affairs of the empire. During her later life, Hürrem became more concerned with charitable works and founded a number of institutions, becoming the first woman to endow a mosque complex in Istanbul. Political aspects aside, to me this is a story of Roksolana’s love and hate for Süleyman, dark passion first born out of necessity and grown in gilded slavery. This is a powerfully and beautifully written historic account of her life, and if you can find this book I wholeheartedly recommend it (and please let me know where you found it, I am desperately searching for an English translation).

Rahat Loukoum.The scent is based on an exotic dessert called Turkish Delight or Rahat Loukoum (literary, “rest for the throat”). This rubbery-textured candy is made from cornstarch or gelatin, sugar, honey, fruit juice, jelly, or rose water and is often tinted pink or green. Chopped almonds, pistachio nuts, pine nuts or hazelnuts are frequently added. This candy was the legendary sweet of the harem in the Middle East, eaten by women to keep themselves appealingly plump.

One of Les Eaux Anciennes, Rahat Loukoum the fragrance is a delicious mélange of white almonds, white honey, musk and vanilla. The sum is bigger, more luscious and darker then the ingredients might suggest; this almost smoky darkness of Rahat Loukoum on my skin is the reason I love it above other renditions of this Turkish delicacy, namely Keiko Mecheri’s Loukhoum and Montale’s Sweet Oriental Dream; it is also the reason why I think this is a fitting perfume for Roksolana. Rahat Loukoum starts with the burst of cherry and the smell grows more sensual, decadent, dark, smoky and less foody with every minute. This is a scent to love "as certain dark things are to be loved, between the shadow and the soul." I will leave you with a poem written by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent for his beloved Roksolana, the poem is signed Muhibbi, meaning “lover” or “sweetheart”:

"Throne of my lonely niche, my wealth, my love, my moonlight.
My most sincere friend, my confidant, my very existence, my Sultana
The most beautiful among the beautiful...
My springtime, my merry faced love, my daytime, my sweetheart, laughing leaf...
My plants, my sweet, my rose, the one only who does not distress me in this world...
My Istanbul, my Caraman, the earth of my Anatolia
My Badakhshanmy Baghdad, my Khorasan
My woman of the beautiful hair, my love of the slanted brow, my love of eyes full of mischief...
I'll sing your praises always
I, lover of the tormented heart, Muhibbi of the eyes full of tears, I am happy."


Blogger boisdejasmin said...

I love your focus on Roksolana, as it is so relatively little known, even in Ukraine. Rahat Loukoum is a fragrance I thought that I would like right away, but my affection for it increased over time. Not a love at a first sniff. Another great review duo! Spasibo, dorogaja.

11:10 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Agree with V, RL was not love at first sniff, but I do love it now. Beautiful review!

11:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

V., have you see the Ukrainian series based on this book? Of course, when I say "based", I mean "very loosely", but still...The actor who played Suleyman was beyond gorgeous I thought, don't remember the name, dark, tall and handsome...

12:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

R., it wasn't love at first sniff for me either. The first time I tried this it was so smoky on my skin, I thought something was burning. The second time was lucky though and now it is one of my High Holy Grails.

12:24 PM EDT  
Blogger ParisLondres said...

What a fantastic post! Like V, R and you, I have started loving Rahat after several tries.

Have a great weekend.

1:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! How funny that for so many of usit took time to start appreciating this scent.
Have a great weekend too!

1:38 PM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

I saw some of these series. My mom recorded them, but I got tired of them after a while. Olga Sumska is ok in it, but the actor who played Suleyman is definitely gorgeous!

9:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

V., I just yandexed the actor who played Suleyman (how sad am I?), his name is Anatolii Hostikoev. :-)

10:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right that the whole is greater than the sum of its part. Love RL! I can't inhale or put on enough. Only downside is it doesn't last long. Much better than Montale SOD, which to me is too pungently ros-y and powdery, or Keiko, which dries down plasticky to me. Hmm, wonder what it would be like mixed with SL Bois de Vanille... PS--fabulous site!

1:00 AM EST  

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