Bukhoor, The Arabian Gold

 By Suhair Awaleh

 

 Bukhoor ( بخور ) is the Arabic name given to a combination of wood chips from specific trees and fragrant oils usually produced with an extensive assortment of natural ingredients; among the most used ingredients in the concoction of Bakhoor are Saffron, Rose, and Oud. Oud is a fragrant oil that comes from the wood of the tropical Agar (Aquilaria) tree, and it is considered one of the most expensive and desirable scents in the world, the smell of Oud is warm and sweet with woody and balsamic base notes.

 The historical use of Bakhoor dates back to approximately 6,000 years ago. Bakhoor has been used to welcome guests and to show warm hospitality, lifting negative energy, and expelling evil spirits. Bakhoor is used in an array of ways and places, from homes and sacred venues to stores and malls (especially in those that sell clothes) to charm customers and enhance their buying experience.
Early humans experimented with the burning of wood chips from different trees, decayed tree branches, and dry leaves to find the right aroma. These traditions were passed down from generation to generation in many parts of the world. Wood chips ended up being the most favored due to their slow-burning and their capacity to absorb moisture. These two characteristics not only would allow the wood chips to absorb fragrance oils efficiently but also to prolong the burning time and release the fragrance slowly.

Over time, humans discovered the dark and fragrant resins that grew on the non-timber trees of Aquilaria. In addition to using it in creating medicinal potions, they used it in the creation of incense. These fragrant resins are known as Agarwood, and when distilled or burned, its aromatic properties are so captivating and majestic.
The term Bukhoor covers Mamool (معمول)l, Muattar (معطر), and Mabthooth (مبثوث). Soaked Agarwood chips in fragrant oils, is called Mamool, and Agarwood chips oil mixed with Agarwood powder and other aromatic oils is called Muattar. As far as Mabsoos (also known as Mabthooth), they are fragrant shavings of Agarwood chips that are soaked either in essential oils or mixed with Agarwood powder to intensify the aroma. Shavings of Agarwood chips are also combined with different scents to have customized or personalized fragrances.
Bukhoor burning offers an array of benefits, like creating harmonious settings, enhancing the sense of wellbeing, and good vibes. The fragrances that emanate from Bakhoor burning not only calm the mind and help in transcending negativity but also create a peaceful, joyful, and sacred halo. In many Middle Eastern countries, it is customary to pass incense amongst the guests after a welcoming meal as a gesture of hospitality.

How is Bukhoor used?
   The traditional way of burning Bukhoor is by placing the incense on ash-covered charcoal in a traditional incense burner known as Mabkhara (مبخرة). However, nowadays, there are a variety of ways to burn Bukhoor like on an oil warmer or in an electric incense burner.

       

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