Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell by Constan Classen PDF

By Constan Classen

Roses, musk, incense and myrrh--smells have continually been linked to magic, therapeutic and sexual strength. but what's skilled as aromatic varies dramatically from one tradition to the opposite and from one epoch to the next.

</b><b>Aroma uncovers the key historical past of smells: from the perfumed banquets of historic Greece to "the top blueberry style ever made", from the candy "odor of sanctity" to the most recent in fashion designer fragrances. A trip of discovery that happens within the body spray potions of the Pacific in addition to Andean aromatherapies, </b><b>Aroma maps the "smellscapes" of alternative cultures and explores the jobs that odors have performed all through heritage. alongside the best way, the authors open our senses to the strong cultural meaings of smells. Odors, they exhibit, tell energy kinfolk among the sexes, among periods and ethnic groups--the sultry femme fatale, the "sweaty operating class", the physique smell of "the foreigner" are cultural stereotypes made strikingly real.

With </b><b>Aroma Constance Classen, David Howes and Anthony Synnott invite us to stick to the odor of cultures current and previous and to find a universe criss-crossed by means of the smell trails of the folks, animals and vegetation that inhabit it. them, unite humans or divide them, empower or disempower.

The booklet breaks the "olfactory silence" of modernity via providing the 1st finished exploration of the cultural function of odors in Western history--from antiquity to the present--and in a wide selection of non-Western societies. Its themes diversity from the medieval thought of the "odor of sanctity" to the aromatherapies of South the United States, and from olfactory stereotypes of gender and ethnicity within the glossy West to the position of scent in postmodernity.

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190 In general, the Greeks and Romans believed, in accordance with humoral theory, that the qualities of hot, cold, dry, and wet constituted the basic sensory building blocks of the cosmos. According to this system, sweet, spicy smells were associated with the characteristics of hot and dry, and rotten smells with those of cold and wet. Thus, for example, it seemed only fitting to the ancients that hot, dry lands, such as Arabia, should be the source of fine aromatics, and that the cold, wet sea should be a source of The aromas of antiquity 49 foul odours.

For example, the following anecdote was told of the first-century emperor Vespasian. In response to a complaint by his son Titus about the taxing of public urinals, Vespasian handed the youth a coin and enquired if it smelled bad. ’101 34 In search of lost scents Other olfactory distinctions, besides that of rich and poor, were also made in antiquity. Among the working classes, certain trades— tanner, fishmonger, fuller, for example—were characterized as foul due to the odours associated with them.

Witches, as completely antagonistic to the social order, are even more repulsive: ‘Haggard and loathly 38 In search of lost scents with age is the face of the witch…her breath poisons air that before was harmless,’ writes the Roman poet Lucan. 123 The Harpies, excrement-dropping bird-women, are particularly potent models of foul womanhood which even today are used to characterize ‘shrewish’ women. While different types of womanhood were represented as fragrant or foul according to these models, however, to a certain extent all women were thought to be foul-smelling in the ancient world.

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Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell by Constan Classen


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