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We know very well how perfumes are today. We know them as liquids and solids, the liquid state being the most widespread. Diluted in alcohol, in vegetable oils, in fat or even in water. How they were used in ancient Egypt is far from the way we use them today.

Nefertum and Shesmu, gods of scents and ointments

The Egyptians considered the sense of smell to be the most important of all.

Above all others, it was considered that all pleasures came from smell. This can easily be seen in hieroglyphs, where whenever they wanted to convey happiness, they used the symbol of the nose, which translates as smell.

When they had to receive the gods, they always did so perfumed with a very sweet perfume, called “divine sweat”, and, likewise, the temples had to be perfumed with myrrh and incense to ennoble the gods.

Besides the well-known Amun, Ra, Osiris, Horus, Isis, Anubis, Seth and Hathor, there were other gods, whom they worshipped. They were destined for other tasks, but were no less important for that.

Nefertum, who is depicted as a child with a lotus flower on his head.

This lotus flower, which blooms at sunrise, sinks into the water at sunset, and repeats the cycle again the next day as the Sun, which is also what it was called.

Nefertum was the god of aromas, ointments, and misnamed nowadays, god of perfumes. For as we know them today, it is a far cry from what they were like.

Shesmu, with an anthropomorphic form and a falcon’s head, much more terrifying than Nefertum, since this god was known in the temples of Edfu and Dendera as “Master of perfumes”. But his quality as a “perfumer” was far from what we might think. For this god pressed the bodies of sinners to obtain a juice, which he offered to the deceased to give them strength. He was also known as the god of wine and wine cellars.

How were the perfumes in ancient Egypt?

The inhabitants of ancient Egypt were very curious and loved to smell everything, and they soon realised that they could carry those smells in their bodies if they could fix it in them. So the ointments they used to perfume themselves were created with animal and vegetable fats to which they added those flowers, plants, woods, fruits and seeds, which they had previously squeezed by different methods. Some of these methods, such as enfleurage, are still used today.

Ancient Egyptian society was very conceited, so much so that they took care of their physical appearance in a way that the Greeks later continued. Elegant clothes, make-up, wigs, jewellery and perfumed ointments were widely used. These perfumes were worth more than any jewellery. They were highly prized, and there were perfumes exclusive to Egyptian high society. This is also the case today if we contrast it with the more exclusive niche perfumery.

The perfume was preserved in beautifully ornamented, highly decorated and opaque bottles to prevent degradation by the sun.

The heat in this country may have been the reason why there was an interest in creating perfumed ointments, as the sweat caused them to acquire unpleasant smells.

Perfumes that are still widely used today are Kyphi and Tyriac.

Perfumes for autumn/winter, based on the favourite olfactory notes of Ancient Egypt.

The Egyptians used different substances to scent their creations, such as iris, iris, lily, myrtle, white lotus, mint, marjoram, dill and flowers of different varieties of acacia. They were very restless in the formulation of their perfumes, and if they had to make expeditions to distant lands to obtain new raw materials, they did so.

As you can see, our current formulations with their olfactory families of perfumes are different, but not exaggeratedly so.

I am a lover of history, and the Ancient Egypt Museum in Barcelona, for example, is marvellous. If you haven’t had the chance to visit it, it’s a great experience.

To conclude, I would like to recommend some perfumes from the Daring Light perfume shop, based on the notes preferred by this wonderful and ancient society, which are many more than the ones I have mentioned.

Great olfactory experiences and that you can easily get in your favourite perfume shop, Daring Light, are:

VOLUME I by History in Drops by Daniel Josier

Mystery Oud by Daniel Josier

Kaleidoscope by Daniel Josier

Luxor by Xerjoff

Istanbul’s Soul by ALGHABRA Parfums

Alexandria II by Xerjoff

Without further ado, I invite you to an upcoming blog post by Daring Light, niche perfumes Barcelona.

Strength and health!

Sergio Martínez Anaya

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