When you read the note ‘incense’ in a fragrance, if often means ‘frankincense’. (Which we’ve filed under ‘F’.) But because of the huge range of incense-like aromas, ‘incense’ can mean a woody smell, a floral note, hints of spice or resin.
The history of incense itself goes back thousands of years – in fact, the first perfumes were burned, not worn: perfume actually gets its name from ‘per fumum’, or ‘through smoke’. The name ‘incense’, meanwhile also comes from the Latin: ‘incendere’ means ‘to burn’…
Incense can be created from a wide range of gums and resins: not just frankincense but storax, balsams of Peru/Tolu/copaiba and more – singly, or in combination, and sometimes with the addition of spices, herbs, flowers…
It all began in Ancient Egypt, where incense was first created using precious gums and resins from trees, imported from the Arabian coast and Somalia. Relics from the burning of incense, dating back thousands of years, have been uncovered by archaeologists. During the Roman Empire, huge quantities of frankincense made their way to Rome from Arabia.
Down the centuries, then, incense has been burned as a part of religious rites, as a fumigant – to cleanse the air and kill germs – or simply for the pure joy of its perfume. (It’s still widely used in religious rites, across different cultures – and has become very widespread in our homes, in the form of burning sticks and joss-sticks.)
And in liquid perfumes, a note of incense adds a richness, intensity and a touch of the exotic.
Smell incense in:
Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande
Hermes Elixir des Merveilles