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The history of Perfume

Updated on November 9, 2009

Egyptian Perfume Bottle


Products that enhance the feel of skin and the smell of the body have been highly valued in every culture. People have used perfume, oils and salve on their bodies for thousands of years in lesser or greater amounts rush on fashion whims.

One of the oldest uses of perfume come from the burning of incense and aromatic herbs. Richly scented plants were incorporated into animal and vegetable oils to anoint the body for ceremony and pleasure. The first form of perfume was incense. It was a part of their religious rituals. They often soaked the fragrant woods and resins in water and oil, and rubbed their bodies with the liquid. They also embalmed the dead with these perfumes.

The Egyptians invented glass and perfume bottles were one of the first common uses for glass as early as 1000 BC. Egypt import many spices and aromatics from India, such as sandalwood, ginger, agar wood and musk. Many plants such as rose and peppermint were used to extract perfumed oil from them.

Egyptians also held a prominent position of the world’s jasmine production. They were the first to encompass perfume in their culture. Then, they were followed by the ancient Chinese, Israelites, Arabs, Romans, Greeks and Hindus.

For so many years, the use of perfumes had been strictly limited to the priests who performed the religious ceremonies. It was developed not to attract the opposite sex; they were made to intensify the goodwill of the gods. Greeks and Romans learned about perfumes from Egyptians. The trade between these countries has been very healthy.

It was during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period besides being used in countless therapeutic and medicinal treatments, perfume obtains a new status as it is applied in perfumed collars, rosaries and aromatic “cushions".

The late 19th century was the first real era of perfume when new scents were created because of advances in organic chemistry knowledge. France became the leader in reestablishing the therapeutic uses of fragrance. Synthetic perfume products were used in place of certain hard to find or expensive ingredients.

Perfume materials were distilled and blended into an alcohol base. Perfumes come from thousands and even millions of variety. It is made from about 78% to 95% of specially denatured ethyl alcohol and a remainder of essential oils.

It's interesting to note that perfume has come in full circle today as more of us yearn for high quality aromatherapy perfumed oils. And perfume has been evolving thru the ages. Since then, there has always been a trade in scents. And this year, 2008, perfume had become a $10 billion industry.


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      candycharlie 6 years ago

      What about the history of perfume?