Frankincense to offer have I.Welcome to my second post of We Three Kings week. The first perfume I reviewed was for gold, and this post is dedicated to the second gift of the Magi: frankincense. Frankincense is the gift that represents prayer.
Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising all men raising,
Worship Him, God on high.
Incense has been associated with communication with the divine since ancient times. It's mentioned in Indian Vedic scriptures from 5,000 B.C., and in ancient Egyptian tablets. Burning incense was serious business to the Jews during the time of Christ's birth; "holy" incense was burned only on special alters, by priests. It seems we humans have always found the fragrance of burning incense special and uplifting.
The Comme des Garçons Series 3 Incense is devoted to the five main spiritual teachings of the humanity; each one associated with a particular type of incense. Avignon represents Christianity and is focused on frankincense.
Frankincense did not start to be used in Catholic churches until the 4th century. Also called Olibanum, frankincense was introduced to Europe by Frankish raiders, hence the name. It's an aromatic resin harvested from trees native to the Arabian peninsula and north Africa. When the bark of tone of these trees is damaged, sap extrudes that hardens into lumps called "tears." The best frankincense comes from trees that grow in the harshest of locations, sometimes attaching themselves to barren rock.
What does Avignon smell like?
It smells like a Gothic cathedral. I've never been to a catholic mass where they swing the censors of incense, sending fragrant smoke over the congregation, but I've read from other reviewers that Avignon is pretty close to the actual experience. The frankincense is desert dry and woody in a way that brings polished wooden pews to mind.
Avignon is dark and contemplative; it smells of huge open spaces and dim lights. It's sheer, as if looking through smoke, but long-lasting and has significant sillage. In the drydown, an herbal chamomile and a gentle hint of vanilla soften the austere Gothic outlines of the perfume.
I find Avignon very meditative and comforting to wear. It clings to the fur collar of my coat, and when I smell it I imagine flickering candles in stone cathedrals and the sound of prayer. This is my scent for Christmas eve.
Comme des Garçons
Nose: Mark Buxton
Notes: Chamomile, Cistus, elemi, Myrrhe, Incense, Patchouli, Vanilla, patchouli, palisander, ambrette seeds
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Photo: Notre-Dame des Doms d'Avignon
Three Kings Icon ©2010 Megan Ruisch