Galbanum & Labdanum History of perfumes (part 2)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Galbanum is an aromatic gum resin, the product of certain Persian plant species, chiefly Ferula gummosa, syn. galbaniflua and Ferula rubricaulis. Galbanum-yielding plants grow plentifully on the slopes of the mountain ranges of northern Iran. It occurs usually in hard or soft, irregular, more or less translucent and shining lumps, or occasionally in separate tears, of a light-brown, yellowish or greenish-yellow colour, and has a disagreeable, bitter taste, a peculiar, somewhat musky odour, and a specific gravity of 1.212. It contains about 8% terpenes; about 65% of a resin which contains sulfur; about 20% gum; and a very small quantity of the colorless crystalline substance umbelliferone.

Galbanum is one of the oldest of drugs. In the Book of Exodus 30:34, it is mentioned as being used in the making of a perfume for the tabernacle. Rashi of the 1100s comments on this passage that galabanum is bitter and was included in the incense as a reminder of deliberate and unrepentant sinners.

It is occasionally used in the making of modern perfume, and is the ingredient which gives the distinctive smell to the fragrance "Must" by Cartier. Hippocrates employed it in medicine, and Pliny (Nat. Hist. xxiv. 13) ascribes to it extraordinary curative powers, concluding his account of it with the assertion that "the very touch of it mixed with oil of spondylium is sufficient to kill a serpent." The drug is occasionally given in modern medicine, in doses of from five to fifteen grains. It has the actions common to substances containing a resin and a volatile oil. Its use in medicine is, however, obsolete.

Amber Jayanti, in her book Living the Qabalistic Tarot says that Galbanum oil is linked with the Tarot card called The Fool. Also called Fiery Intelligence, the Fool represents the divine spark that animates the universe. According to Richard Alan Miller (The Magical and Ritual Use of Perfumes), galbanum oil is steam-distilled to yield a green, fruity-floral odor reminiscent of green apples. The Fool card is also linked with the herb ginseng.

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Above, dried Galbanum from the Swedish Museum of Natural History - Linnean Garden

Connecting to nature and beauty through the sense of smell and perfume. Past and present, Social and historical; practical and pleasurable.

Galbanun & Labdanum

These are perfume materials that have been used since ancient times and often for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Both are listed in the Bible as components of the incense to be burned before the tabernacle. Both used in modern perfumes of the Chypre type, adding a deep balsamic and woody lingering quality. I happen to have some Labdanum essential oil so I tried a drop on my skin, it is intensely woody, smokey, sweet and resinous and seems to have a strongly calming effect. Galbanum and Labdanum are used as a remedy to counter anxiety, not surprisingly. If perfume is for the purpose of making the wearer feel good, these ancient perfume materials are the ones that truly fulfill that function. The old method of gathering labdanum is to herd goats among the bushes, their woolly coats gathering the resinous material. Labdanum is said to have a deep effect on the subconscious, calling forth memories and moods. Galbanum has a very similar but with a more "green" scent profile; it was highly valued by the ancient Eygptians who steeped ceremonial accessories into it.

Ferula gummosa and Cistus Creticus in the same place in my farm.

1.Ferula gummosa, from which galbanum comes.
2.Cistus Creticus,
from which labdanum comes

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