Sandalwood and Carrion: Smell in Indian Religion and Culture, by James McHugh.
India is a country of sensory overwhelm – colours, sounds and in particular smells. This 300+ page goes back through millennia, looking at the fragrant element of Indian culture right back to the first millennium CE, explaining how perfumery influenced many of the materials, practices and ceremonies which are associated with India’s religious culture. (Did you know that evil literally ‘stank’, in Indian religion?) In an extremely readable style, the book looks at the gifts of flowers and incense, dives into Sanskrit texts on perfumery, explores in depth the significance of sandalwood and traverses the ‘smellscape’ of traditional South Asia, via poetry, literature, ancient texts (and even a smattering of Evelyn Waugh).
Publisher: Oxford University Press