Ittar shunned by the scent of modernity

Published September 18, 2012

In the remote town of Kannauj, the perfume capital of India, traditional workers are struggling to keep their craft of ittar-making alive in the face of fierce competition from modern fragrance makers.

Each morning local farmers near Kannauj pluck bagfuls of rose, jasmine and other petals and deliver them to the nearby perfume distilleries dotting this sleepy town. In a process that can take days to complete, the flowers are mixed with water and heated in the copper pots. The aromatic steam is then transferred via a bamboo pipe to a receptacle containing sandalwood oil which acts as the base for the ittar.

But while it is still popular with natural fragrance enthusiasts, ittar is increasingly shunned by India's brand-conscious consumers who have become used to foreign products since economic reforms in the 1990s opened up the country.–AFP

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