File:John William Waterhouse - The Soul of the Rose, 1903.jpg
To produce 1kg of ruh gulab requires almost double the amount of rose flowers - eight tonnes. In India, there are some wealthy customers who still buy attars and ruh al gulab. But Kannauj's biggest domestic client is now the chewing tobacco industry. Pure rose oil is a natural product that is safe to consume by mouth, and a tiny drop is sufficient to flavour a large quantity of tobacco.
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Outside India, one of the biggest markets is in the Middle East, where dheg-produced attars have long been highly valued, and there are plenty of customers who can afford to buy them. One reason attars are valued by Muslims - both in India and the Middle East - is that they are made entirely from natural substances that can be applied directly to the body, without the addition of alcohol.
In this respect they differ from modern scents that are mixed with solvents and sprayed through an atomiser. In the Gulf region attars increase in value the older they are. As a result, they have historically been offered as presents to brides at their wedding, along with incense and gold, in a wooden chest called a dezza. But men also wear perfume.
In fact rose oil has traditionally been considered a masculine scent in the Gulf and has only recently begun to be worn by women too. Although Arabian merchants have traded incense for spice and perfume for centuries, it was in the early s that the trade first took off in Kuwait. The first shop in the souq in Kuwait city dedicated entirely to perfumes, Atyab Al Marshoud, was opened by Sulaiman al Marshoud in , who traveled regularly on dhows to India with his father. Today, perfume shops have flooded the souq. Rose attars from Bulgaria and Turkey are highly esteemed, but the ruh al gulab from Kannauj is recognised as something unique - a tola an ancient measure equivalent to about But as a luxury product expected to be of the purest quality, some consumers are willing to pay this price.
How long Kannauj will be able to continue supplying traditional attars and ruh gulab, though, is unclear. Summary [ edit ] John William Waterhouse: This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art.
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