Aroma the cultural history of smell

The most famous of Egyptian perfumes, Kyphi, was a blend of sixteen ingredients. Money that was spent on perfume literally evaporated, a process that represented the antithesis of bourgeois values of converting money into solid assets. Not only would the spectators see and hear the pageantry, they would breathe it in and feel identified with it and each other.

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The limits of the camp were surrounded by a fire of fumigation, in which elder-wood crackled and foreign galbanum bubbled; the tamarisk of scanty leaf, Eastern costos, powerful all-heal, Thessalian centaury, fennel, and Sicilian thapsos made a noise in the flame; and the natives also burned larchwood, and southernwood whose smoke snakes loathe.

Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell

But now Tongilianus has nothing but a nose. At the level of the workplace, the concern is with how to develop an attractive olfactory atmosphere that will stimulate and refresh workers, as opposed to the stale air that is usually found in the enclosed modern office building.

As in the days of ancient Rome, perfumes often formed part of the entertainment on social occasions. At the other extreme, the unkempt home of a poor family, living in crowded, dirty conditions, might smell very differently. Why this cultural repression and denigration of smell?

Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell - PDF Free Download

Clean streets were a luxury, they argued, jobs were a necessity. The rising middle classes, in contrast, would find their niche in the safe middle ground of olfactory neutrality.

The Tale of Sir Topaz, Canterbury Tales54 As in the classical period, herbs and spices were widely used to flavour food in medieval and Renaissance Europe.

Individuals fumigated their homes cultudal, among other things, incense, juniper, laurel, rosemary, vinegar and gunpowder. While the imagined corruption of the poor was associated with filth and stench, that of the aristocracy had its olfactory sign in heavy perfumes. Among the working classes, certain trades— tanner, fishmonger, fuller, for example—were characterized as foul due to the odours associated with them.

Mint scent was thought to refresh the spirit. Garlands and floral crowns were thought to make fitting offerings for the gods, and to bestow on their wearers an essence of divinity when worn by mortals. Thus, even poorer families would keep burning censers at their front doors in order to protect their homes from the malignant emanations of the world outside. Likewise, cushions might be filled with dried herbs, and powdered scents placed between the bedclothes to render sweet the hours of repose.

In churches, the pews of the gentry were sometimes strewn with flowers, as we read in the sixteenth-century Apius and Virginia: The municipal regulations designed to control the disposal of waste were often ineffective because they placed too much of the burden for its disposal on individual householders. When the ancients offered up these aromatics to their deities, therefore, they were offering up not only pleasant scents, but whole mythological histories and an implicit desire for union with the divine.

Olfactory symbolism, thus, was used very effectively to pass value judgements on different groups of people in antiquity.

Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell

These gods were not only sweet-scented themselves, but also delighted in the presence of perfumes. Here will I smell my remnant out, and tie My life within this band. In one inscription a deceased king proclaims: Sugar refineries, in turn, made use of vast amounts of animal blood and parts in their processing.

Chapters 1 and 2 were researched and written by Constance Classen, while the other chapters represent more of a aroa effort. The most apparent reason for this would seem to be that, once bathing was an established cu,tural, perfumes were no longer needed to mask unpleasant body odours.

The fragrance they exhale, 48 In search of lost scents consequently, might be thought of as a kind of yearning for an unfulfilled union. Sight, therefore, increasingly became associated with men, who—as explorers, scientists, cultudal or industrialists—were perceived as discovering and dominating the world through their keen gaze.

Buying perfume was like scattering your money to the wind. In fact, if used against the state, mundane breath would soon take on a rather offensive stink, for treachery had its stench just as did sin.

It also covers a wide variey of non-Western societies.

Those who stayed in town made sure to carry with them some olfactory prophylactic whenever they ventured outside.

The philosophers and 4 Introduction scientists of that period decided that, while sight was the preeminent sense of reason and civilization, smell was the sense of madness and savagery. Related articles in Google Scholar.

Pliny recommended myrtle berries for this purpose. The scent of a sprig of pennyroyal wrapped in wool was believed to help sufferers from recurrent fevers, while the odour of pennyroyal seeds was employed for cases of speech loss.

When the funeral was of someone important, flowers were oof sometimes scattered along the route of the procession.

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