Histori of labdanum from Cistus Creticus and Chypre Perfume. (Part 1)

The collection of genuine labdanum with the traditional way becomes only from the plant Cistus Creticus. Cistus Creticus exists in Eastern Medideranen.
The collection labdanum with the traditional way depends:

1. from the plant (only from Cistus Creticus).
2. from the ground.

3. from the climate. The climate is altered with the years so that are altered also the regions from where it is collected labdanum.

I will present all regions where they were collected the laudanum as well as the historical reports.

Part 1: North Africa

In prehistoric (neolithic) North Africa there lived, amongst many peoples, a tribe of nomadic goat-herders. Occasionally, these people noticed that their goats acquired a blackish, sticky substance on their fleeces and eventually they realised that if this substance were removed and burned, it provided a very fragrant smoke.

As a brief aside it is worth mentioning that the use of aromatic materials as incense is the origin of perfumery and of aromatherapy. The word perfume itself comes from the Latin words per fumum, meaning through smoke.

Having lived in North Africa, not far from the Nile delta, I can appreciate what kind of impact a pleasant smell had on the people who lived there at that time. Even living with the benefits of hot water and soap one starts to smell like a cheese one or two hours after a shower. In summer the coolest time of day is in the middle of the night. Even then, with all windows open and movement restricted as near as possible to nil, the perspiration pours off as if one were in a sauna.

The value of a fragrant substance was apparent to our nomads and they isolated the origin of the black sticky stuff. The goats ‘collected’ it as they grazed among the rock roses (labdanum). It can’t have been long before the goats were removed from the equation. The invention of the ladanesterion, a flail with leather thongs later named after the plant by the Greeks, may have been the first technology to be related to aromatics. With it the nomads could flail the plants, the resin sticking to the thongs. From these it could be more conveniently squeeged off than it could from goats’ fleeces. (They actually used sand to separate the labdanum from the ladanesterion, the sand being easily removed later).

Naturally enough, the labdanum resin so collected was much in demand and the nomads eventually gave up goat herding to become labdanum traders. They were so successful in this that they became the first dynasty of Egypt. If you examine pictures of pharoahs or of Osiris (the imagery is largely interchangeable) you will see that the arms are crossed over the chest, one hand bearing a crook (a legacy of the goat-herding days), the other hand bearing a flail (ladanesterion). The pharoah wears a false beard (even if female!) actually made from goat hair which was evidently stuck to the chin using labdanum.

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