3 Things You Didn’t Know About The History Of Perfume

The world of fragrance can truly take us places and tell a story about who we are. Still, there are so many interesting facts about fragrance yet to be uncovered. Let’s go back in time and discover where it all started!

There are various theories when it comes to the origin of perfume, but most commonly Mesopotamians, Persians and Egyptians are equally mentioned as the world’s first perfume creators. The first known perfume maker was a female chemist named Tapputi, who created the first scent with myrrh, oils and flowers in Babylonian Mesopotamia. In Egypt, almost 4000 years ago, people used scent in everything from religious ceremonies to burial preparations, and even every-day wear. Fragrance was thought to be the sweat of the sun god Ra, and was therefore considered as a holy attribute. Egyptians even had a god of perfume named Nefertum who wore a head dress made of water lilies, which is the one of the most common perfume ingredients today. Persians were also great admirers of perfume, and scent was frequently used as a symbol of political status. They even used it so much that is was common for kings to be pictured with perfume bottles in Persian paintings! It wasn’t until later when the Greeks and Romans took over Persia and got acquainted with perfume that it began to be viewed as a form of art. It slowly spread throughout the globe and in 1190, when perfume came to Paris, it started growing commercially and blossomed into the massive industry that it is today.

The meaning and status of perfume developed differently in different countries, so there were many types of fragrances that were considered perfumes long before the first modern perfume was introduced. But it was the Hungarians who ultimately introduced perfume as a modern wearable scent, made of scented oils blended in an alcohol solution. The first perfume made for exclusive personal use was for Queen Elizabeth of Hungary and became known throughout Europe as Hungary Water. The scent was mainly dominated by natural ingredients such as rosemary and thyme.

It might not be what you think! The finest and most expensive perfumes are made of absolute oils, a mixture of concentrated, highly aromatic and oily mixtures extracted from plants or certain flowers. Natural ingredients are most expensive as they are usually very rare, extremely difficult to obtain or highly regulated. The priciest ingredients in the world are Jasmine, Bulgarian Rose, Oud, Musk and Orris. The world’s most expensive ingredient is Ambergris, a substance that is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. The high price of an ingredient can also be due to the fact that it’s natural source has been lost, like the natural Oud oil, or if the ingredient is off-season like ylang ylang from Madagascar.


Words by: Photographs by: Oriflame