A Brief on Perfumery Industry in Ancient and Modern India

Posted by | September 19, 2014 | Fragrances | No Comments

Sense gratification is a primary task of living beings. As human beings, we devise ways to please our sensory organs. Music for ears, art and painting for eyes, delicacies for tongue, massages, clothes, ointments and many other things for skin and enchanting perfumes and fragrances for our nose. However, it is not an easy task to create fragrances and perfumes by mixing solvent, fixatives and odoriferous elements. Such work requires both precision of science and imagination of art and hence perfumery is considered to be both – art and science of manufacturing perfumes.

What is Perfumery

Perfumery is the way through which perfumes are manufactured. It has long been in practice. The earliest evidence of perfumery at an industrial scale has been found in Cyprus and dates back to 2000 BC. Perfumers who practice the art of perfumery put in their imagination in mixing various odoriferous elements of varying notes with solvents in correct proportion and through the proper processes utilizing scientific principles.

Perfumery in Ancient India

Though evidences suggest Cyprus to be the place where perfumery was practiced as an industry as long back as 2000 BC, but India too happens to be one of the first places in the world, where perfumery was practiced and it flourished at industrial scale. Other than mentions of the use of perfumes in old literary texts, Kautilya (370-283 BC) has mentioned industrial scale manufacturing of perfumes and its high volume trade with distant nations. Varahmihira (505-587 AD) also mentions in detail about perfume and perfumery industry in India in his book Brihat Samhita under the heading ‘Gandhayukti’. Numerous other texts, including Kamasatra, Agnipurana and Siva Tattva Ratnakakara have details about perfumery as it existed as an industry in the ancient India.

Types of Perfumes

Though perfumes are not essentially classified basis their types, they are majorly classified basis their process of manufacturing. Perfumes manufactured using ‘Absolutes’, essential oils, all natural products are a better classification. However, for general understanding basis odiferous elements or fragrances extracted from natural substances the different types of perfume include the following:

  • Floral
  • Herbal
  • Soil
  • Jasmine
  • Kewda
  • Rose
  • Saffron
  • Hina
  • Agarwood and many more

Perfumery industry in modern India

Given the strong presence of perfumery at industrial scale in ancient India, it is quite obvious that modern day India is also popular for its perfumes. The development of science and technology has further enabled perfumers in India to improve on their traditional skills and develop enhancing perfumes, fragrances and flavors.

In the current scenario, India contributes to 10% of global 100,000 crore of perfumery, fragrance and flavor market. Basis popular researches, the contribution could easily be improved to around 20%, if new odors are researched upon and used industrially. Traditionally, the perfumery industry in India focused on manufacturing perfumes majorly for women, but at the present time men to use perfumery products thus offering enhanced opportunities for the perfumery industry in India.

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