Le bois de oud dans l'histoire

Oud wood in history

Oud wood in history
Oud wood, or agarwood, has a rich history of more than 3000 years. Its use began in China, Japan, India and the Middle East. At that time, only kings, emperors and the rich could benefit from it and appreciate its virtues. Here is a chronological overview of the appearance of agarwood throughout history:
- Ancient Egypt : At the time of the pyramids and the pharaohs, the Egyptians used oud wood in their rituals for embalming the bodies of privileged families.
- 2600 and 2800 years : The oud qmaei is mentioned in the Sushruta Samhita, a Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery. It also appears in the biography of the Indian emperor Harsha (Harshacharita) in 700 BC. Around the same time, Xuanzang, a Chinese Buddhist monk, described the use of aloe wood and its oil for writing sacred texts.
- 2600 years : The "Nihon Shoki" (Chronicles of Japan), the second oldest book of Japanese history, mentions a piece of aloe wood found in Pursat, Cambodia, famous for its scent. This piece of wood, kept at the Nara National Museum, is exhibited to the public less than 10 times per century to avoid any damage.
- 2300 years in China : The chronicles of Nan Zhou Yi Wu Zhi (Strange things from the south) of the Wu dynasty mention aloe wood. Later, it was discovered that wealthy families in ancient China used it to make coffins for their deceased. Buddhists used agarwood for their malas (long bracelets or necklaces of 108 wooden beads).
- 1200 years : The use of oud wood for its medicinal properties is mentioned in the Hadith Qudsi (sacred words) of Sahîh Muslim. It is also said that oud wood is a tree brought down by Adam from Paradise.
- France, period of Louis XIV : King Louis XIV soaked his clothes in rose water, previously boiled with oud wood.
These examples show the importance and varied use of oud wood across cultures and times.
Uses of Oud wood
Throughout history and up to the present day, oud wood has been used for medical, spiritual, religious and artistic purposes. Here are the most common uses:
- Religious : Oud wood is used in many religions and philosophies during rites or sacred ceremonies, particularly for weddings, funerals and prayers. It is particularly popular with Muslims (Islam), Buddhists (Buddhism), Taoists (Taoism), Hindus (Hinduism), Catholics (Catholicism) and Christians (Christianity).
- Medical : Recognized medicinal and therapeutic use, particularly in the traditional medicines of China, the Arab world, Tibet, India and South-East Asia.
- Artistic : Its pleasant aroma and rarity make oud a valuable material for sculpture. Large, intact pieces of aloe wood intended for carving are rare. Works of art made entirely of oud wood are few in number, and furniture is even rarer.
Nowadays, this product is increasingly used by major brands in the creation of perfumes, incense, as well as jewelry.
In summary, what is oud wood?
Oud wood, also known as agarwood, aloe wood, eagle wood, calambac, and gaharu, is often nicknamed "the wood of the gods" for its captivating fragrance, its many virtues and its exceptional rarity.
This natural treasure is a piece of wood impregnated with a dark, aromatic resin, forming at the heart of the trunks of certain trees in the lush forests of Southeast Asia. This precious resin develops in response to bacterial infections, giving the wood its unique and powerful aroma over several decades or even hundreds of years.
For centuries, well before our era, oud wood has been revered in Asia for its medicinal properties, luxurious scent and noble appearance. It also plays a central role in art and religious practices. Today, it is marketed in three forms: raw, powder and oil, each offering unique experiences.
The exceptional qualities and rarity of oud wood place it among the ten most expensive woods in the world, making it a true symbol of prestige and refinement.
Written by: Cameron IBARA
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