Historically,culture has considered the senses of sight and hearing as "higher"senses, delighting them to the arts: dance, poetry and music among other forms.The senses of smell, taste and touch have been considered the "lower"senses for their connection to primal instincts: survival, nutrition andmating. However, the sense of smell has been underestimated, as well as thedesire for mankind to cater to his/her vanity.
The history of perfume dates back to the ancient world. The Egyptians employedfragrances as part of their religious ceremonials, believing that they couldcommunicate with the gods by raising scented smoke; thus, the word perfume -per fumum, Latinfor through smoke. Incense was used for religious purposes, while balms andointments were used for cosmetic and/or medicinal purposes. Myrrh, frankincense,peppermint and rose were common ingredients in early perfumes. The Egyptiansinvented glass and utilized glass perfume bottles to store their perfumes. Theyalso used gold, hard stones and other materials to make their perfumecontainers.
The Persians perfected the art of preserving scents; while the Greekscategorized perfumes according to the part of the plant they came from and keptrecords of their compositions. Alexander the Great brought perfume to Greeceafter invading Egypt, and the Romans took on the Greek's perfume culture whenthey invaded Greece. In the mean time, Islamic, Chinese and Indian cultures hadbeen using perfume as part of their religious and social rituals as well.
AsChristianity spread, the use of perfume diminished. All that lasted until the12th century, when Europe started to see the perfume thanks to theinternational trade. Routes between the East and West were open and new scentsand spices made it to Europe. Perfume use revived, as it was a great additionto personal grooming. In those early days of fragrances, people often developedtheir own fragrances by mixing flowers, herbs, spices and oils in their ownhome.
The 18th century brought the Eau de Cologne - "water from Cologne". Ayoung Italian, Jean-Marie Farina invented it in Cologne, Germany, which was abig success in France and subsequently in Europe. The eau de cologne wasoriginally intended for both internal and external use, having both medicinaland cosmetic applications. Napoleon created a legal distinction betweenpharmacy and perfumery.
Hygiene hadbecome a symbol of soul purity as the 19th century arrived. Modern chemistryand advanced technology made it possible to create new extraction techniques.The biggest of all technological advances was the ability to create syntheticingredients to substitute natural perfume ingredients that were hard to find orvery expensive, bringing perfume and cologne pricesdown and making it accessible to the masses. Perfume was no longer a luxury forthe wealthy. However, there were still only a few brand names available untilthe 20th century when mass production of perfumes began.
Human beings are vain by nature and have perpetuated wearing perfume andcologne as an intricate part of culture. We are in a global society, wheretechnology has made designer perfumes accessible.