History of Perfume

Published: 11th September 2009
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Perfumes are one of the most popular accessories worn by the people today. There are a wide variety of perfumes starting from inexpensive ones to designer perfumes going into hundreds of dollars.

The history of perfume has to start from the origin of the word perfume. Perfume derives its name from the "per fumum" which in Latin means through smoke. The art of making perfumes is known as perfumery. The history of perfume starts in Mesopotamia and Egypt where the earliest traces of perfumery have been found. The Persians and the Romans then carried forward the art and took it to greater heights. Eastern Asia also had presence of perfumes but their perfumes were based on incense mostly.

Tapputi, a chemist of ancient Mesopotamia, is the first recorded perfume maker. It dates back to the second millennium BC. The oldest perfumes dating back to 4000 years have been found in Pyrgos in Cyprus. An entire perfume distillery has been found there with the presence of bowls, funnels, bottles etc.

The history of perfume has shown signs of chance in the process of making perfumes. In olden days, perfumes where never made from flowers. Instead it was made from herbs, spices, almonds, resins, bergamot and others. It was in Persia that a chemist named Avicenna introduced extraction of oil from flowers. This was done using distillation, the same process which is used even today. He introduced rose based perfumes which had a very delicate fragrance for the times dominated mainly by the strong blends of perfumes made from oils and crushed herbs. This instantly became more popular.

With the spread of Islam in parts of Europe, perfumery came to Europe in the 14th century. Hungarians were the first to introduce modern perfumes to the world. The first modern perfume made from oils blended with alcohol was made in 1370 and this became popular throughout Europe as Hungary Water. Perfumery blossomed during the Renaissance period in Italy and then migrated to France. Soon France became a country known for its perfumes and other cosmetics. South of France has seen growing of flowers for the perfumes become into a major industry. The sanitary practices of Renaissance France made it necessary for the royals and the wealthy to use perfumes to mask body odor. It is because of the support from the royalty and the wealthy community that perfume industry blossomed in Western Europe. France till today remains the perfume capital of the world and is home to many very popular perfume brands.
The history of perfume has seen a lot of changes, from the Mesopotamians to the French, the change in ingredients as well as the change in the process of how it is made.





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