Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Ancient traditions have the endearing trait of sometimes not being out of place in the modern world and even recalling beliefs which we thought had expired along with the pre-Industrialised world. It wasn't too long ago that we were talking about Arabian Rituals and about incensing clothes and body in preparation for weddings as well as an everyday custom that women (and men) indulge into for well-being and appeal.
A kind reader by the name Kels sent us the following clip, which depicts the fascinating process in all its detail, shot in Yemen, as part of the BBC documentary "Women in Black".

The charcoals are placed in the ceramic censer and a scarf is placed over the head to catch the fragrant emanations, sometimes making the eyes water from the smoke but obviously imparting a magnificent aura of divine beauty.
"In the west you smoke fish, meat and cheese. Here we smoke ourselves". Indeed!

In fact the whole documentary is exceedingly interesting on many levels, fragrance nonwithstanding, so I highly recommend you click on the following link and watch the clips uploaded. Enlightening!

Next: musings on an enduringly classic fragrance that is a legend in its own right!

Clip originally uploaded by BBCWomeninBlack on Youtube.


  1. Anonymous13:05

    Very interesting! Thanks for bringing it here, I have never seen anything like this before.

  2. That was great to see in action. I admit I had a hard time in my mind imagining how they applied incense to themselves.

  3. You're welcome A. It's not something you usually see on western sites, true. The documentary was very interesting, did you watch the other clips?

  4. J,

    it puts an image to the text, so I think it serves its purpose magnificently. Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Anonymous20:05

    glad you enjoyed the clip - I'm chuffed to get a mention on Perfume Shrine! This is my favorite perfume blog, you offer an insight into the global culture of perfume and fragrance that goes beyond the
    marketing blurb of the latest release. Especially love the Series - what's the next one gonna be?

    For those of your readers who live in the UK, be sure to check out episodes of Women in Black on BBC Iplayer

    Also, can I recommend the newly released book Perfume: A Global History, an illustrated anthology of perfume culture from all over the world (including extensive essays on perfume in Africa - most perfume history books tend to completely ignore the fragrance culture in the "Dark Continent") and The Smell Culture Reader edited by Jim Drobnick.


  6. Thank you Kels, for your most wonderful compliment which is overwhelming me with pride and for your wonderful recommendations and insights.
    You deserve the mention since it was you who directed me to the clip :-)

    The next Series is going to focus on a classic house, I think ;-) And then another one on a specific note, per popular request.

    I do rec the Smell Culture Reader as well: wonderfully rich compilation.


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