Oud -“The Wood Of God”
- 21 Feb, 2018
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Nature sometimes amuse us with her highly treasured possession.
One such wonder lies in the virtues of fragrant,dark resinous wood
that the world hail us as “The Wood of God” -Agarwood/Oud. Widely
used across the world for a variety of application,One lesser known
product from Oud is a very special form of tea.Made from carefully
selected,matured oud leaves,the agarwood or the Oud tea is a delicious
and wholesome drink that brings with it a great number of health
Agar wood commonly known as Gaharu in Malaysia, Jinko and Jinkoh in Japan, Adlerholz in Germany, Bois d’Aigle in France, Pau d’Aguila in Portugal, Chen Xiang in China, Ood/Oudh and Oodh in UAE, Eaglewood/Aloeswood and Gaharu in Indonesia. Agar wood is a fragrant and highly valuable wood found in Aquilaria species of the Thymelaeaceae family. There are 15 species of agar wood around the world. Agar wood is mainly traded in three forms wood chips, wood dust/powder and Agar-oil.
Agar wood and its essential oil gained great cultural and religious significance in ancient civilizations around the world being mentioned throughout one of the world’s oldest written texts, (the Sanskrit Vedas from India). In as early as the 3rd century, the chronicle Nan zhouyiwuzhi (Strange things from the South) written by Wa Zhen of the Eastern Wu Dynasty mentioned agar wood produced in the Rinancommandery, now Central Vietnam, and how people collected it in the mountains. Starting in 1580 after Nguyên Hoàng took control over the central provinces of modern Vietnam; he encouraged trade with other countries, specifically China and Japan. Agar wood was exported in three varieties: Calambac (kynam in Vietnamese), tram huong (slightly harder and slightly more abundant), and agar wood proper. A pound of Calambac bought 15 taels in Hoi an could be sold 600 taels in Nagasaki. The Nguyên Lords soon established a Royal Monopoly over the sale of Calambac. This monopoly helped fund the Nguyên state finances during the early years of the Nguyên rule.
Agarwood also known as the ‘Wood of the Gods’ has at least a 3,000 year history in the Middle East, Japan and China.There are references of agarwood in many ancient literature and religious scriptures. The Indian poet Kalidasa once wrote: “Beautiful ladies, preparing themselves for the feast of pleasures, cleanse themselves with the yellow powder of sandal, clear and pure, freshen their breast with pleasant aromas, and suspended their dark hair in the smoke of burning Aloeswood”. Agar wood is an integral part of culture and religious landscape of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslim, Christians, Taos, Sufies etc. In addition, it is widely used in medicinal practices of Ayurveda, Unani, Arabic, Tibetan, Sufi and Chinese. The followers of Buddha believe that the burning of Agar-wood and taking in its aroma helps one reach the ultimate stage of meditation and hence use it accordingly. It has found a mention in the 8th century tomes of Shahin Muslims. The word ‘aloes’ has been mentioned several times in the Old Testament of Christians
The earliest record of agar wood in Japanese texts dates back to the year 595 AD, in the Nihon-shoki (Chronicles of Japan) which records the following entry:
“…aloeswood drifted ashore on the island of Awaji (near Kobe). It was six feet in circumference. The people of the island, being unacquainted with aloeswood, used it with other firewood to burn for cooking; the smoky vapour spread its perfume far and wide. In wonderment, they presented it to the Empress”.
When the agar wood arrived at the royal court, Prince Shotoku recognized it as jin-koh, the use of which had been introduced to Japan along with Buddhism in the middle of the 6th Century, via the Korean peninsula. Agar wood fragrance was central to incense offerings of Buddhist rituals, which became incorporated into State ceremonies and imperial court functions during the Nara period (710-794 AD), a tradition that continued until the Meiji Restoration (1868) after which the tradition of offering incense during imperial functions was abandoned.