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Four Moments from the History of Scent

Public Talk

Oct '22

Meitha Al Mazrooei

Four Moments from the History of Scent

“Dry a wolf’s penis and pound it, then mix it with musk, cloves, and saffron of pure filaments. That is my advice, should you sense the need for supplementary aid,” he said. “Make sure to prepare it yourself; the scent will help. Swallow the compacted powder before the sun sets.” The context was 13th century Iraq. He was Ibn Al-Jazzar, the renowned physician (or was he a perfumer?). She was an anonymous woman searching for a recipe to help her conceive. For a headache, he asked her if she had any rosewater. If that was too expensive or unavailable, olive oil or warm water should do. “Apply it with a cloth on your forehead.”