perfume

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perfume,

aroma produced by the essential oils of plants and by synthetic aromatics. The burning of incenseincense,
perfume diffused by the burning of aromatic gums or spices. Incense was used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome and is mentioned in the Old and the New Testaments. It is also found in the major religions of Asia.
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 that accompanied the religious rites of ancient China, Palestine, and Egypt led gradually to the personal use of perfume. In Greece, where flower scents were first developed, the use of perfume became widespread. In Rome perfume was used extravagantly. During the Middle Ages the Crusaders brought the knowledge of perfumery back to Europe from the East. It was at this time that animal substances were first added as fixatives—muskmusk,
odorous substance secreted by an abdominal gland of the musk deer, used in perfume as a scent and fixative. The gland, found only in males, grows to the size of a hen's egg; the secretion is reddish-brown, with a honeylike consistency and a strong odor that may function in
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, ambergrisambergris
, waxlike substance originating as a morbid concretion in the intestine of the sperm whale. Lighter than water, it is found floating on tropical seas or cast up on the shore in yellow, gray, black, or variegated masses, usually a few ounces in weight, though pieces
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, civetcivet
or civet cat,
any of a large group of mostly nocturnal mammals of the Old World family Viverridae (civet family), which also includes the mongoose. Civets are not true cats, but the civet family is related to the cat family (Felidae).
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, and castoreum (from the beaverbeaver,
either of two large aquatic rodents, Castor fiber and Castor canadensis, known for their engineering feats. They were once widespread in N and central Eurasia except E Siberia, and in North America from the arctic tree line to the S United States.
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). Italian perfumers settled in Paris (after 1500), and thereafter France became the leader of the industry. After 1500 scents became fashionable; both men and women wore an ornamental pomander or pouncet-box (dry-scent box), which hung from the waist. Each wealthy household had a "still room" where perfume was prepared by the women. Since the early 19th cent., chemists have analyzed many essential oils and have produced thousands of synthetics, some imitating natural products and others yielding new scents. Most perfumes today are blends of natural and synthetic scents and of fixatives that equalize vaporization of the blends and add pungency. The ingredients are usually combined with alcohol for liquid scents and with fatty bases for many cosmetics. Leading producers of perfume oils are the East Indies, Réunion island, and S France. Bulgaria and Turkey are noted for attar of rosesattar of roses
, or rose oil,
fragrant essential oil obtained from roses and used in making perfume. It is one of the most valuable of the volatile oils. Rose water is water in which a small amount of the oil is dissolved.
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, Algeria for geranium oils, Italy for citrus oils, and England for lavender and mint. The great fashion houses of Paris are renowned for perfumes that carry their names. See eau de Cologneeau de Cologne
, dilute perfume [commonly called cologne in English] introduced c.1709 in Cologne, Germany, by Jean Marie Farina. It was probably a modification of a popular formula made before 1700 by Paul Feminis, an Italian in Cologne, and was based on bergamot and other
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.

Bibliography

See E. Sagarin, The Science and Art of Perfumery (2d ed. 1955); R. Genders, Perfume through the Ages (1972).

Perfume

(pop culture)

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, one of the most unique of modern vampire novels, was released in Germany as Das Perfum in 1985. Its author was Patrick Susskind (b. 1949) The novel concerns one Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an eighteenth-century Frenchman born with no body odor of his own, who discovers that he possesses a most developed sense of smell. As he gains a wider range of olfactory experiences, he was drawn to a young woman with a beautiful odor. He kills her attempting to capture it.

Grenouille eventually found his way to the great perfume maker Baldini of Paris, who begins giving him a formal education in creating perfumes. Grenouille later perfects his art, capturing the essence of various flowering plants while at Grasse, the center of the perfume industry. But his goal is to devise a technique for capturing the essence of humans, and when he succeeds, he concocts a scheme to make the ultimate perfumes from the combined essences of a number of beautiful women. This action of stealing the life essence of his victims is essentially vampiric in nature. The end result, the perfume, also makes him capable of using it to manipulate those around him, most notably those who arrest, try and convict him and then the crowd which gathers to watch his execution. In the end, all, including the father of one of his victims, declare him innocent. He, however, remains an empty shell of a human being.

The novel was successful internationally and has remained in print in several languages. In 2006, a film adaptation, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, was released. Co-written and directed by Tom Tykwer, it starred Ben Whishaw and Dustin Hoffman.

Sources:

Suskind, Patrick. Perfume. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986. 255 pp.

Peterson, Cassandra see: Elvira

Perfume

 

alcohol or alcohol-water solutions of mixtures of odoriferous substances, perfume compositions, and infusions used as aromatizers. Perfume compositions are made from more than 300 natural and synthetic odoriferous substances obtained from plant, animal, and chemical raw materials. Plant substances, or volatile oils (from steam distillation or extracts), are used alone as scents (rose, coriander, sandalwood oils), as raw materials for making synthetic essences (coriander, sassafras, and anise), and in the form of infusions (patchouli leaves, coriander seeds, or oak moss). Animal substances (amber, civet, and musk) are used only in the form of infusions.

On the average, a perfume composition contains 15 to 60 or more essences. Crystalline essences are first dissolved in one of the liquid nonvolatile components. Depending on the type of raw material, the process of extracting the essence lasts from several hours to a year. The raw material is treated with alcohol two or three times for more complete extraction of the essence. The perfumes themselves are prepared in hermetically sealed devices or cisterns equipped with mechanical mixers or pumps; in some devices the mixing is done by bubble flasks. Water and a small amount of water-soluble dye are added to some types of perfumes after the composition is dissolved. Proteinaceous substances, waxes, and other impurities that are insoluble in alcohol precipitate out during solution of the essences. Finished perfumes are poured into flasks in vacuum pouring machines. The entire operation of finishing the flasks (sealing, labeling, testing the seal, and packing) is done on automated machines or with the aid of special conveyor devices.

The persistence of a perfume odor on cotton-textile fabric must be no less than 30 hours. Perfumes usually contain 10-25 percent composition, although some contain up to 50 percent. Perfumes are divided into two groups according to their odors: flower perfumes, which simulate the odor of one or more flowers, and perfumes created by the imagination of the perfumers. Perfumes may have a light, delicate odor (Lirika, Lei’, or Ellada) or a strong odor (Kamennyi Tsvetok, Chaika, Yaroslavna). Perfume should be protected from the action of sunlight. It is guaranteed to keep for 12 months from the time of manufacture; perfumes of the “deluxe” group are guaranteed for 15 months.

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