From Sacred Incense to Commercial Commodity: The Evolution of Perfume

By Ajit Lomate

May 2024

Perfume’s journey from sacred offering to commercial commodity is a fascinating tale spanning centuries and cultures. The story begins in ancient times when the great religions of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Shintoism, and Zoroastrianism used perfume in the form of incense to enhance their spiritual practices. They believed that the fragrant smoke of burning incense carried their prayers up to the heavens, making them more pleasing to the gods.

Temples played a significant role in this spiritual use of perfume. Constructed from aromatic woods, these sacred spaces were imbued with mysterious and holy scents. Historical records from Mesopotamia reference temples built from cedar wood, renowned for its enduring fragrance. In Punt, known today as Somalia or Ethiopia, myrrh and frankincense were used in temples to drive away evil spirits, creating an environment of sanctity and protection.



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