USEs & BENEFITS
The word attar, also called otto and ottar, is derived from the Arabic itir, which simply means perfume. But don’t let the name fool you into thinking attar is simply an exotic word for what we call perfume today.
In contrast to the watery, alcohol-based “juices” of post-Chanel perfumery, natural attars are unapologetically rich, potent, even viscous, often both in terms of scent and physical consistency. As is the case with fine agarwood, “nectar” seems more appropriate a term than “juice” when referring to the stuff in the bottle.
Attars at Zaza are for those who see past the sterile artifice of modernity, craving instead the pre-19th century origin of perfume, which is to say perfume as it was before aldehydes were discovered and Frankenstein was released to the public.
These are rounded, supple compositions—some traditional, others modern in character. These compositions make use of the most exquisite natural ingredients like exclusively harvested jasmine, 1980s Sultan Qaboos rose, sandalwood of similar vintage, raw Jamaican ambergris, and authentic Siberian deer musk. No synthetic substitutes, no watering things down, this is natural perfumery fit for the Nizams of Hyderabad.
I look at attar as the basis of perfume, the original perfume if you will. It was developed in the Muslim world in the 10th century, by the physician and polymath known as Ibn Sina, at a time when perfume in general was valued for its practical uses in devotion and health, in addition to its being an essential part of personal hygiene.
Characterized by delicately extracted botanicals and florals, as well as potent animalics such as musk and ambergris, attars became the preeminent form of perfume throughout the east. Ibn Sina himself formulated multiple remedies for medical conditions with attars based on the Greek, Indian, and Chinese systems of medicine, the prevailing standards at the time.
Today, the health and emotional benefits linked to essential oils and plant extracts in traditional medical systems are receiving much renewed attention. Whatever you may think about that attention, I can assure you that the oils and extract in these attars are the finest there is to be had!
It was in 16th century India that attar production was honed to perfection by the fragrance masters of the Mughal empire. Their refined aromatic compositions, popular among rulers, healers, and spiritual seekers alike, further enhanced the profile of attar as a marker of gentility.
Under those masters, the soothing sweetness of sandalwood was variously coupled with pure botanicals, rich resins, and bold animalics to produce scents that, by the 18th century, were considered appropriate as gifts and tributes among nobility and rulers the world over.
Despite the inevitable association with wealth and prestige that comes with a perfected craft, attar and perfume would remain valued primarily for practical and devotional reasons, both in the east and the west, until the 19th century when its value as perfume became more prominent. Unfortunately, with that prominence came a commercial interest in synthetic ingredients that has resulted ultimately in the dominance of synthetic fragrances today.
Yet, once you've entered the world of natural perfumes, it's very difficult to wear those caustic, generic mainstream synthetic concoctions. And Zaza’s attars are all about exploring that world with attars that embody an uncompromising commitment to quality and olfactory excellence.
This is the apex of natural perfumery. Go right ahead and experience it for yourself.