Did The Ancient World Obtain Spikenard as a Perfume From India?

Sudheer By Sudheer, 18th Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/20xt93l./
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

The English word Spikenard (an aromatic ointment) is derived from the Greek term Nardostakhus and the Latin term Spica Nardi; both the terms are derived from the Sanskrit term Nardostachys (Naradasya) Jatamansi, which perhaps means 'the braid of hair (Jataa) of (Narada). Narada was a traditional bard in ancient Indian folkore.

Did The Ancient World Obtain Spikenard as a Perfume From India?

Spikenard is a costly aromatic ointment extracted since ancient times from an Indian plant known in Sanskrit as Nardostachys (Naradasya) Jatamansi, which perhaps means 'the braid of hair (Jataa) of (Narada). Narada was a traditional bard in ancient Indian folkore.

The English word Spikenard is derived from the Greek term Nardostakhus and the Latin term Spica Nardi; both the terms are derived from the Sanskrit term Nardostachys Jatamansi. This plant has purplish-yellow flower heads and is very rarely found. Its smell is quite pleasing and hence it had been in great demand since ancient times.

In Sanskrit, other terms used to refer to this plant are, Jatila which means 'difficult', Tapasvini which literally means 'concentration and devotion'. These words used to describe Spikenard indicate that it was very difficult to obtain and cultivate this plant. In India this herb was available only in the Himalayas. Spikenard, which is aromatic and bitter, yields on distillation a pleasant smelling oil.

In India, it had been used since ancient times as an aromatic adjunct in the preparation of medicinal oils and was popularly believed to increase th growth and blackness of hair. The Roman historian Pliny observes the Spikenard was considered very precious i Rome and it was stored in alabaster boxes by persons of eminence.

Another aromatic herb exported from amcient India was the Nard. It is a root of th ginger-grass found in western Punjab an Baluchistan. The Nard is found in semi-aril areas and it seems to have been found by Alexander in Gedrosia (Baluchistan) when hi army unknowingly trampled the plant while on march and this resulted in a sweet pel fume which we are told "was diffused fa and wide over the land by the trampling".

The Nard is known in Latin as Cymbopogon Jwarancusa the word Cusa is perhaps de rived from the Sanskrit word Kusha for grass. The use of the word grass to refer to Nard is perhaps because of its being confused by the Romans with other aromatic grasses like lemon grass, gingergrass, citronella, etc., which also yield aromatic oils.

Source: http://www.hindubooks.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=1378

Tags

Ancient India, Ancient World, Perfume, Spikenard

Meet the author

author avatar Sudheer
I am a freelance writer and write on a variety of subjects.

- Sudheer Birodkar

Share this page

moderator laluls212 moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know

Comments

author avatar Rainbow cloud
28th Mar 2011 (#)

i think its ok but very good infomation

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Username
Can't login?
Password