Aromas of the Ancients: Myrrh

Aromas of the Ancients: Myrrh

Welcome to the Topic “Aromas of the Ancients: Myrrh”

Myrrh is one of the most widely known fragrances. It has gained popularity due to its smoldering woody scent. One of the oldest fragrances in the world; its use dates back to the Ancient Ages. Here's all you need to know about this musky scent.

Where does Myrrh come from?

 Myrrh is a gum resin extracted from the True Myrrh tree, which grows in areas surrounding the Red Sea, including Arabia, Somalia, and Ethiopia. The name Myrrh comes from the Hebrew word ‘murr,' which means bitter, as Myrrh is a very earthy compound. 

Refined versions of Myrrh are said to have a bitter aroma and flavor. It has an intense, powdery resinous aroma to certain people. However, the fragrance is pleasant, especially for people who enjoy the scent of incense. Its rich and exotic oriental scent attracts both men and women.

Uses of Myrrh

Myrrh had many uses in ancient times. It was the very first perfume ingredient. It was not only used for its fragrance but also religious and medicinal purposes. As a sign of sacrifice and repentance, as well as purity and the preservation of flesh, Myrrh was utilized by the Roman Catholic Church in their incense during the Middle Ages

. Fumigation of ancient Egyptian temples often involved Kyphi, the base ingredient of Myrrh. The value of Myrrh was often more significant than the same amount of gold. As a symbol of the tears of their sun/sky god Horus, son of Isis and Osiris, ancient Egyptians gave great importance to Myrrh.

It was also used in the production of beauty products, especially skin care products, due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and replenish the skin. In ancient times, people often consumed their wine with Myrrh as they believed it would keep them sober. 

Myrrh had vast uses in the medicinal world too. Myrrh was recommended by Dioscorides, a Greek physician, to treat coughs and infections of the eyes, teeth, and mouth. To cure intestinal and mouth diseases, Myrrh was administered topically in Sumeria. As part of the embalming ointment used in mummification, Myrrh, along with frankincense, was used to cure wounds and skin sores in the Ebers papyrus.

The legend of Myrrha

Myrrh holds great significance in Christianity as it was one of the Magi's three gifts. However, Ancient Greece has a legend about Myrrh and its origin. The legend has it that Myrrha was the daughter of the King of Cyprus who fell in love with her father. She chose to trick him into having an affair with her that lasted for several nights. 

When the King found out that the woman he’s been spending his nights with was, in fact, his daughter. He decided she must not be spared and ran after her with a sword in hand. Myrrha ran to the gods for help, who turned her into a Myrrh tree to protect her from the fate that befell her. Nine months later, the tree's bark cracked, and Myrrha gave birth to the god Adonis.

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