History of labdanum from Cistus Creticus - Chypre Perfume (Part 3)

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 colle
cted the laudanum as well as the historical reports.

Part 3: Cyprus (Chypre in France).

Time: little before the genesis of Christ - up to the 18 century.
Historical reports:

Dioskurides 1o AC.

2.Gaius or Caius Plinius Secundus (23-73 BC), better known as Pliny the Elder, was an ancient author, naturalist or natural philosopher and naval and military commander of some importance who wrote Naturalis Historia.

3.Pietro della Valle (2 April 1586 – 21 April 1652) wa
s an Italian traveler in Asia.

Likely parts in Cyprus where producted the laudanum with the traditional way:



In Cyprus sprouts only Cistus Creticus.

perfume of Cyprus (Chypre) was identified with that of laudanum

The Chypre (pronounced SHEEP-ruh) family o
f perfumes takes its name from Cyprus, which is Chypre in French. The island itself is now thought to have been the home of one of the first major perfumeries in the Western world dating back to 2000 BC.

Discovered on the Mediterranean island of Cyp
rus in 2003, the perfumes date back more than 4,000 years, said excavation leader Maria Rosaria Belgiorno of the National Research Council in Rome.

Remnants of the perfumes were found in
side an ancient 3,230-square-foot (300-square-meter) factory that was part of a larger industrial complex at Pyrgos.

The buildings were destroyed during an earthquake in 1850 B.C., but perfume bottles, mixing jugs, and stills were preserved under the collapsed walls.

It is likely that even after the destruction of this factory that much of the knowledge of perfumery was retained amongst the people dwelling there as the island was a haven of naturally occurring aromatic plants. Cistus(from which labdanum comes), Pistacia lentiscus (from which Mastic is derived), Laurus nobilis, mint, oregano, sage, thyme, lavender and many other fragrant species were found growing there in their natural state.

Prior to the Crusades, their was considerable trade between Cyprus, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Egypt and Persian countries and as aromatics in the form of unguents, incense, etc were considered highly desirable items of commerce, it is likely that Cyprus had special creations that were valued by its neighbors.

There was at the time of the Roman Empire a perfume that bore the name of Chypre which was composed of labdanum, Turkish storax and calamus. The production of this perfume continued in Italy through the Middle Ages with a variety of natural aromatics used.

Soon after Richard the 1st(Richard the Lion Hearted) took the title of the King of Cyprus in 1191, a Eau de Chypre perfume appeared in France which was said to consist of of extracts various gums, resins and spices in a rosewater base. In 17th and 18th century France a new form of Chypre appeared in the form of a incense know as 'oyselets de chypre. The various gums, resins (labdanum), herbs and spices were ground into a powder and mixed with gum tragacanth and fashioned into the form of birds which were then burned as we burn incense today. Oakmoss at this time was added to the basic formula which are key ingredients in the modern forms of Chypre.

During the ensuing years up till 1917 when Francois Coty introduced his famous Chypre perfume, many perfumers worked the themes of labdanum, bergamot and oakmoss into their compositions but it was not until his classic creation came on the market that the word "Chypre" became associated with a family of perfumes that displayed, at their heart, a rich , warm, earthy, mossy, resinous, green bouquet. Coty also drew upon various synthetic chemicals to "enhance" the central Chypre theme.

Following the introduction of his perfume many famous fragrance houses introduced their own unique variations of Chypre.

With the passage of time more and more synthetic ingredients were substituted for naturals which has been the standard pattern in the commerical perfume field. Many modern chypres contain very little if any of the core accord of labdanum, bergamot, and oakmoss or any of the other natural absolutes and essential oils which originally were part of a fine chypre composition.

Each family of perfumes (oriental, chypre, fougere, etc) has its own unique core aromatic characteristics which help set it apart from others. Within that central theme there is ample room for creative work. On the tree of the Chypre family one finds a number of main branches, i.e. Chypre-Floral, Chypre-Fresh, Chypre-Leather etc so even though one is working out of a particular aromatic theme base which in Chypre generally centers around bergamot, labdanum and oakmoss(some perfumers include patchouli, vetiver, amber, angelica and orris root in the core essences) one can develop their own "signature" perfume which will be unique and special. In this newsletter we will explore the first accord of a Chypre perfume.

The following natural Chypre accord built around Bergamot, Labdanum and Oakmoss should serve as a good beginning formula for those who wish to create a lovely perfume.

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