080711

7 Aug

 It’s been so long since I was in China, I forgot this simple fact: most things we think are natural to the west in fact got going in China. Lillyrosegarden.com says, “Fossils seem to indicate that roses existed in prehistoric times and rose gardening probably began in China some 5,000 years ago.” Quite different from the western roots I’d imagined for rose, which I think of as being one of the essential aromatics, along with jasmine and, they used to say, for perfume, sandalwood, but now, your guess is as good as mine as to what will be the next “must-have” aromatic for a perfumer. For other heart notes, I’d have to say magnolia or boronia, the former being much more affordable; also orange-flower absolute is a necessary companion to neroli in the top. For the base, I’d vote for pine-needle absolute, the thick, dark-green, and dilution-necessary sort, but then I have a particular fondness for this aromatic. For other base notes, I’d have to say benzoin and orris root. Rosewood, petitgrain, and neroli are also distinct possibilities for must-have top notes.
 One thing I haven’t mentioned further is my desire to include natural incense in the Silk-Road project. The first question which must be answered is in what _form_ to make the incense. Joss sticks (sticks with no bamboo skewer), cones, short fat sticks, etc. All of these can be burned in a bowl of sand; one can’t use a regular incense burner with any of these (regular incense burners are designed to hold bamboo skewers). I already have what I think of as a signature LJ natural incense; it’s based on orris-root powder, lavender-leaf powder, and rosemary powder (from now on, I will eschew the word “powder”), held together with laha (a great ingredient, like dar and makko, which makes for incense which you don’t have to add saltpeter to, a highly toxic substance not found in natural incense) and lavender distillate water. That’s a nice combination, and I’ll be proud to call that my signature incense.
 Other ingredients I’ll be interested to try in finished incense include: jatamansi, nardostachys jatamansi (which I know because I sometimes use an incense called Jatamansi from Nepal). It has an intriguing aroma, very earthy and rich (I just discovered this also known as spikenard, or, less commonly, muskroot) [I’m unclear about whether the root or flowers are used to make jatamansi/spikenard powder]. Also stone flower (which is like oakmoss), pine resin (I have a recipe called Scorpio which calls for frankincense, galangal, and pine resin), hibiscus, calamus, rhododendron, patchouli, etc. The thing is these aromatic powders smell very different when burned than they do up close and personal; you never know how a given aromatic will smell like until you burn it. For example, oakmoss/stone flower, when burned, smells exactly like a head shop from the ’70s; that’s just me, but you know what I mean (I think). The possibilities are many and varied for Lord’s-Jester incense.

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