February 19, 2007

Galbanun & Labdanum

These are perfume materials that have been used since ancient times and often for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Both are listed in the Bible as components of the incense to be burned before the tabernacle. Both used in modern perfumes of the Chypre type, adding a deep balsamic and woody lingering quality. I happen to have some Labdanum essential oil so I tried a drop on my skin, it is intensely woody, smokey, sweet and resinous and seems to have a strongly calming effect. Galbanum and Labdanum are used as a remedy to counter anxiety, not surprisingly. If perfume is for the purpose of making the wearer feel good, these ancient perfume materials are the ones that truly fulfill that function. The old method of gathering labdanum is to herd goats among the bushes, their woolly coats gathering the resinous material. Labdanum is said to have a deep effect on the subconscious, calling forth memories and moods. Galbanum has a very similar but with a more "green" scent profile; it was highly valued by the ancient Eygptians who steeped ceremonial accessories into it.
Above, dried Galbanum from the Swedish Museum of Natural History - Linnean Garden

3 comments:

Jeannemarie Auclair Regan said...

Nicely written, and thank you for the information. I've always wanted to know more about the origins of biblical perfumes, etc. It is a fascinating topic, timeless.

chaya ruchama said...

Good morning, dear L !

Two of my favorite substances.
I agree completely regarding the therapeutic effects...

Another delight-
The fact that , through them, we are able to aromatically link ourselves to our forebears.
That's pretty powerful.
Humbling.
Thought provoking.

Lucy said...

Jeannemarie and Chaya - I love knowing more about the history of the uses of the aromatic elements of perfume, and especially moved by the resins. As you say, the connection to tradition gives the experience an expanded dimension. I know labdanum is used most often in men's fragrances, but I like it so much I would use it as the major component in a fragrance for myself, with perhaps a couple of other elements added -- maybe try jasmine for one...