“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world
To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.”
The Buddha -- Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Agarwood - Trầm Hương

I first heard about agarwood when i listened to David Crow, founder of Floracopeia, talked about 'The 10 Virtues of Incense'. Agarwood is the the aromatic resinous wood created by diseased Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees. In Việt Nam agarwood is called Trầm or Kỳ Nam, an ingredient used in high quality incense.

In reading about agarwood i was so intrigued and wanted to know how the fragrance was. So when i saw Floracopeia offered the agarwood chips, after some internal struggle because of the high price, i decided to get some. The wood chips came in a white satin pouch and they don't look that impressive.

I did not use it right away because it needs to be heated up for the aroma to be released. To heat the wood, i use a ceramic bowl filled with ash, and heat a small piece of incense charcoal. The piece of charcoal was put in the ash, a thin mica plate is then put on the charcoal, and finally a small wood chip is put on the hot mica plate. When i saw David Crow at the aromatherapy retreat he told me to use just a tiny bit of wood so the wood piece that i used was about 3/4 cm long and the width is about the same as a flat toothpick. If you look at the above picture, the piece that i used was about the size of the smallest wood chip at the bottom left corner.

As the wood heated up i became so excited to find out how the fragrance would be. After about five minutes i put my nose to the bowl rim and i started to notice a faint sweet smell. The fragrance gradually became more and more intense and i began to move my nose further away from the bowl and within an hour my living room was filled with the agarwood scent where the warm sweetness literally went into my nose and linger on my throat. This lasted a few hours and there was no smoke. I could not believe how a tiny little chip of wood could have such powerful fragrance and i realized that i could have used only half the amount. The burning of agarwood or aloeswood has been used in ceremonies of many cultures, religions, and the fragrance also has many therapeutic effects. It is supposed to help with meditation and i read that the Buddha even said “The aromatic fragrance of agar takes one to the stage of nirvana.” . Whether this is true or not i found the agarwood scent to be quite serene and calming. The fragrant is different from the agarwood incense. It's much thicker, sweeter, and more pleasant, imho, and the scent (no smoke) seems to rise straight up before it spreads out into the atmostphere. This is quite an amazing experience and i am glad to get hold of this precious wood.

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