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Sandalwood and CarrionSmell in Indian Religion and Culture$
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James McHugh

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199916306

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199916306.001.0001

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Allies, Enemies, and Yakṣa Mud

Allies, Enemies, and Yakṣa Mud


(p.135) 6 Allies, Enemies, and Yakṣa Mud
Sandalwood and Carrion

James McHugh

Oxford University Press

What were perfumes and incense actually like and what did people do with them? This chapter explores the theory and practice of perfumes. Medieval South Asians did not talk of “top notes” and “base notes”, but of “allies” and “enemies” in the structure of a perfume. Perfumes ranged from simple pastes of sandalwood and saffron to complex oils containing dozens of ingredients subject to numerous processes. The chapter also analyzes a literary episode involving a perfume-addicted, love-sick prince as a case study to confirm and to complicate what we have learned so far about the uses and meanings of smells and perfumes in medieval South Asia.

Keywords:   perfume, incense, garland, perfumery, Manasollasa, erotics

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