protecting the odor soul

We’ve reported on smell before at the gimcrack here and here and here. But there’s still more to be found at the Social Issues Research Centre

“Among the Amazonian Desana, for example, all members of a tribal group a believed to share a similar odour. Marriage is only allowed between persons of different odours, so spouses must be chosen from other tribal groups. This belief is expressed in rituals involving the exchanges of goods with different odours: one group will present the other with a gift of meat, for example, and receive fish in return. Some rituals involve the exchange of differently scented ants.

image found here

The Batek Negrito of the Malay Peninsula take the same taboo on the odour-mixing of close relatives a stage further: not only is sexual intercourse between those of similar odour prohibited, but even sitting too close to one another for too long is considered dangerous. Any prolonged mixing of similar personal odours is believed to cause disease in the people involved and in any children they may conceive.

The dangers of odour-mixing are even more extreme for another Malay Peninsula people, the Temiar. The Temiar believe that each person has an odour-soul, located in the lower back. If you pass too closely behind a person, the odour-soul is disturbed and mingles with your body, causing disease. This must be prevented by calling out ‘odour, odour’ whenever you approach a person from behind, so that the odour-soul is forewarned of the intrusion.

For the Dogon people of Mali, odour and sound are believed to be intrinsically related because both travel on air – the Dogon speak of ‘hearing’ a smell. In addition, speech itself is believed to be scented: good speech – with appropriate grammar and pronunciation – smells pleasant (in Dogon terms, this means an odour of oil and cooking, which are highly valued), while nasal, indistinct or ungrammatical speech has an unpleasant, stagnant odour. Ten-year-old children who persist in making mistakes of grammar or pronunciation will have their noses pierced as a corrective.

Western notions of aesthetically pleasing fragrances are by no means universal. For the cattle-raising Dassanetch of Ethiopia, no scent is more beautiful than the odour of cows. The association of this scent with social status and fertility is such that the men wash their hands in cattle urine and smear their bodies with manure, while the women rub butter into their heads, shoulders and breasts to make themselves smell more attractive.

The Dogon of Mali would find these customs incomprehensible. For the Dogon, the scent of onion is by far the most attractive fragrance a young man or woman can wear. They rub fried onions all over their bodies as a highly desirable perfume.

I highly recommend visiting this site and reading more about the perfume box rituals of Arab countries

Published in: on December 14, 2009 at 7:03 am  Comments (53)  
Tags: , , ,

the smell of a 35 year old man

beaver muff box

Gould and Pyle are reporting on smells today

Preismann in 1877 makes the statement that for 6 hours after coitus there is a peculiar odour noticeable in the breath, owing to a peculiar secretion of the buccal glands. He says that this odour is most perceptible in men of about 35, and can be discerned at a distance of  6 feet. He also adds that this fact would be of great medicolegal value in the early arrest of those charged with rape. The same article states that after coitus naturally foul breath becomes sweet.

Fey Rey by Keith Boadwee

Fey Rey by Keith Boadwee found here

Pare states that persons of red hair and freckled complexion have a noxious exhalation; the odor of prussic acid is said to come from dark individuals, while blondes exhale a secretion resembling musk.


Sharon Tate

Fevre says the odor of the sweat of lunatics resembles that of yellow deer or mice, and Knight remarks that the absence of this symptom would enable him to tell whether insanity was feigned or not.


image found here

Hammond refers to three cases under his notice in which specific odors were the results of affections of the nervous system. One of these cases was a young woman of hysterical tendencies who exhaled the odor of violets. This odor was given off the left half of the chest only and could be obtained concentrated by collecting the perspiration on a handkerchief, heating it with four ounces of spirit, and distilling the remaining mixture. The administration of the salicylate of soda modified in degree this violaceous odor. Hammond also speaks of a young lady subject to chorea whose insensible perspiration had an odor of pineapples; in this connection he mentions a most unfortunate young woman who, when suffering from intense sick headache, exhaled an odor resembling that of Limburger cheese.


Published in: on October 10, 2009 at 7:56 am  Comments (40)  
Tags: , ,