"It was the month of March last year when I stopped by in Arabia on my way back from Oman and went to Mecca. Silk produces strange optical effects according to the way it is woven. One afternoon I discovered the Ka’aba in a colour I had never seen it before. Instead of a dark black on which the oven calligraphies were nearly invisible, the particular sunlight of that afternoon made it light grey, enhancing the calligraphies."
Thus begins the inspiration behind Tawaf.... The Ka'abah is the geographic center of the Arabian soul, of its spirituality, culture and civilization and Tawaf (طواف) is the name of the muslim ritual consisting of circumambulations [7 times counter-clockwise] around the Ka’abah, the cube shaped building in Mecca, adorned with black silk.
|El Topo (1970) film via killthesnark.blogspot.com|
Abdes Salaam, the all naturals perfumer pilgrim which travels under the passport of Dominique Dubrana, now has encapsulated this spiritual journey into a new fragrance that is as oriental as it is mystical. It's a common westernized preconception to think of the scents of the East as seductive by default, a tradition inaugurated by Shalimar (Guerlain) in the 1920s when anything eastern seemed filled with promise of forbidden delights, but the apocryphal spirituality of the Middle East hides in the sockets of this jasmine-strewn all natural oriental that aims at the soul as much as it does at the body. Forget all about the Middle Eastern tourist-y "oudh" fragrances churned out by western niche brands too.
The Tawaf fragrance is the aromatic "melody" of the scents that surround those performing the Tawaf. It brings together the trails of Jasmine Sambac that pilgrims wear, the rose water poured from buckets to wash the white marble floor and the Oppoponax attar spread by the handful over the corners of the Ka’abah. These are the essences that comprise the new fragrance. Other ingredients meaningful in the Arabic tradition are Narcissus and Myrrh. Tawaf is a binary perfume constructed on the combination of two accords that intertwine without melting one into each other, the Jasmine Sambac accord and the Oppoponax resin accord interweaving like two colored Chinese silk fabrics which display two different colors depending on how the light shines on them."
I am already a fan of most of Abdes Salaam perfumes (if you have read this blog long enough, you know it by now) so it wasn't such a leap falling in love with a perfume which combines two of my favorite notes: jasmine and opoponax. You got to love a perfumer who is as assured of himself as to publicly state that "it's not difficult to make a good fragrance". Even more so when he's not profiting of the short-cuts that using a handful of passe-partout synthetics present in today's industry ("let's put a lab-produced citral and peony top note with some rose & patchoulol in the heart and boost the base with tons of Iso-E Super and Ambroxan for tenacity & diffusion and call it a day"). But the blending in Tawaf, although recognizably a melange of jasmine and opoponax resin (the latter giving that hazy, soft focus effect that seems like you're seeing everything through a vaseline-smeared lens), is so much more than the sum of its parts. The golden ambience of the jasmine is warm, plush, generous, late summery in feeling, yet with an austere and unusual broom hint. The flower takes on facets of honeysuckle and still green narcissus; fatty, happy, yellow, elevated on an elemental plane where plant emerges from the soil triumphant, alive, touching the sky. The myrrh inclusion is ascetic, bittersweet, offsetting the sweeter floral essences and the delicate rose veil.
Tawaf surrounds the self with the mystery and awe reserved not for tales of maudlin romance, but for the encompassing need for a higher being that knows no religious boundaries and no country borders. And for that it is essential. It's hard to believe anyone wouldn't -at least-like it; it would indicate they're soulless...
Tawaf is available at the La Via del profumo site in 15.5 ml, 33 ml and 50 ml bottles (beautifully decorated with Arab calligraphy). There is also an innovative Tawaf blending kit the aim of which is to allow you to compose the fragrance according to your personal taste. With the kit you’ll be able to change the perfume every day in a different way, to match your mood and state of mind.[more details on the link]
A 15ml bottle of Tawaf will be given by the perfumer to a Perfume Shrine reader. Please share in the comments how you envision a spiritual experience related to smell (or if you have any such scented spiritual experience!) to be eligible. The giveaway is open to US and Canada readers only, this time, due to USPS regulations (sorry about that...). Draw remains open till Friday 26th midnight and the prize will be posted by the perfumer directly to the winner.
Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Abdes Salaam & La Via del Profumo fragrances,
Mapping Scents of Spitiruality.
In the interests of disclosure, I was sent a sample for reviewing purposes by the perfumer directly.