Was Costus Used as a Perfume For The First Time in Ancient India?

Sudheer By Sudheer, 18th Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1u1al.b5/
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Costus an aromatic root was used as a perfume for the first time in ancient India.

Was Costus Used as a Perfume For The First Time in Ancient India?

There are records that Costus was used as a perfume for the first time in ancient India.* Costus is the root of the plans Saussurea Lappa, a tall perennial plant growing on the open slopes of the vale or Kashmir and other high valleys of that region. The plant is found at elevations of 8000 to 13000 feet. It was used by the Romans as a culinary spice as also as a perfume.

This root was dug up and cut into small pieces and shipped to Rome and China. The root is generally of the size of a finger with a yellowish woody part and a whitish bark It is said that Seleucus Callinicus had obtained Costus from India and sent it as gift to the Milesians.*

The Romans also referred to costus as radix, the root as distinguished from Nard which was called folio the leaf. The price of Costus in Rome is stated by Pliny to have been 5 denarii per pound.

India still exports Costus and today the collection of Costus is a state monopoly. In Kashmir the product is used by shawl merchants to protect their fabrics from moths. The Indian origin of Costus is evident from the fact that the word is derived from the Sanskrit term Kustha (Bhu-Stha) which means 'that which stands in the earth'. This word was perhaps used as Costus was a root.

*The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea - Travelsand Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant in the First Century, Translated from the Greek and Annoted by Wilfred H. Schoff, Longmans Green and Co. New York, 1912.

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

Tags

Ancient India, Costus, Perfume

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