Originally, there were the raw materials : spices, roots and flowers, cultivated since the Antiquity and sought after by all civilisations. Vasco de Gama coveted them when he disembarked off the coast of Malabar in the southwest of India, one of the principal reserve of high quality essential oils: spices, vetiver, jasmine, agarwood, calamus, rose, tuberose or sandalwood. During the 16th century, the Mongols came bringing with them the refinement of the new techniques in perfumery, such as the attar, a distilled of flowers on a sandalwood base which is still used in Kanauj in the centre of India . In the religious rituals, perfume plays a very important part: for example, a paste composed of sandalwood is placed on the forehead of the members of the congregation. For Indians, body and spirit are a whole, therefore their daily use of ointments, perfumes and hair treatments are considered as being essential in their search for beauty and health.
Five perfumes have been specially created for this book by Nicolas de Barry: l’eau de gingembre, the heady tuberose, the attar rose, the vetiver of the maharadjas and the sandalwood, a sacred wood.