Attars are fragrances in the form of essential oils, which are derived from botanical sources such as flowers, herbs, barks, and spices. These essential oils are extracted through the process of steam or hydro distillation. They are helpful in healing the body and providing healthcare.
History of Attar
It is believed that in ancient times the royals used to use these perfumes both for using on themselves and as well as for burning in the household and court-halls for continuous fragrance.
Even Hindus used this perfume in their temples. These incenses were burned daily in gold and silver thuribles or vessels of various beautiful shapes and designs.
It is said that Akbar created a separate department, which was called Khushbu-Khanah, which means department of perfumery, as he was very fond of perfumes.
Attar is derived from the Persian word “itir,” which means perfume. They were initially produced by the Egyptians, but later Abi Ali Al Sina transformed the profession, and after that, production and demand increased rapidly.
However, many sources give credit to Noor Jahan for its discovery from roses, but according to Dr. R. Nath, it was the discovery of her mother, Asmat Begum, which is even mentioned in Jahangir’s diary, the son of Akbar, where he notes, “I have regret for the Itr-i-Jahangiri that my father’s nostrils were not gratified with such essences.”
This “Itr “is a discovery which was made during my reign through the efforts of the mother of Nur Jahan Begum. When she was making rosewater, a scrum formed on the surface of the dishes into which the hot rosewater was poured from the jugs. She collected this scum little by little; when much rosewater was obtained a considerable portion of the scum was collected.
It is of such strength in perfume that if one drop is rubbed on the palm of the hand, it scents a whole assembly and it appears as if many red rosebuds had bloomed at once. There is no other scent of equal excellence to it. It restores hearts that have gone, and brings back withered souls. In reward for that invention, I presented a string of pearls to the inventress.
It is also said that when Mumtaz Mahal (the wife of Shah Jahan) died in 1631, the Emperor Shah Jahan, refused to wear perfume ever again because it would only remind him of her.
List of some perfumes used in 1600 A.D
- Bhimseni Kanpur
Note: Substances such as aloe, cinnamon, sandalwood, anbar, musk, and myrrh were widely used to make attars during the Mughal reign.
Types of Attar
1. Cool and Warm Attars
They are typically used in summer and have a cooling effect.
Many of them are extracted from flowers like jasmine, rose, mogra, khus, and kweda.
Warm attars- These are mostly used in winter seasons and are believed to enhance body’s temperature.It includes saffron, musk, and amber.
2. Animal Attars
Those derived from animals are known as “animal attars.” They include- musk (extracted from glandular secretion of a rare species of male deer found in the Himalayas), Ambergris (released by the sperm whales)
3. Herbal Attars
Those that are made from natural extractions from fruits, spices, roots, stems, and flowers like gugal, chameli, jasmine, and many more are known as herbal attars.
4. Mitti Attars
They are mostly used in aromatherapy and are very demanding in India. They are prepared from soils of the riverbanks through the process of hydro-distillation. They are popular as “the scent of Rain” or “petrichor essential oil and “wet earth”
Uses of Attar
- They are used in pharmaceutical industry for making medicines
- Used in many aromatherapies and spa
- They are also used in improving pain, migraine, respiratory health
- Reduce the levels of cortisol (hormone responsible for high blood pressure, metabolism, stress levels and enhances memory)
- They are used in many scented candles, room fresheners, incense sticks, cosmetics
- Widely used in perfume industry for making fascinating varieties of perfumes
- They are also used in making pan masala and gutka to enhance tobacco’s flavor
- They are also used in many luxurious sweets and dishes
NOTE: Attars have a prolonged life, and many become stronger with time. They do not need any preservatives. Those that become stronger with time are sold at premium prices.
How To Apply
Apply it to the inside of each wrist and dab behind both earlobes. Nowadays, they also come in roll-on bottles, which makes it easy to apply. Always try to dab it from the wrist to the other part of the body where you want to put it.