Incense Glossary

Agar - Agarwood, also known as aloeswood or oudh, is the resinous heartwood from Aquilaria trees, large evergreens native to southeast Asia. The trees occasionally become infected with mold and begin to produce an aromatic resin in response to this attack. As the infection grows, it results in a very rich, dark resin within the heartwood. Aloes was the "original" incense, so frequently the word "agar" is used to mean simply "incense".

Agarbatti (sometimes Agarbathi) - Incense sticks.

Agarbattiwala - that crazy, brain-injured freak who runs this place. 😉 Traditionally: a seller of incense, perfume, soap, and other fragranced products.

Attar - a fragrant essential oil or perfume obtained from flowers.

Batti (sometimes Bathi) - Sticks.

Bdellium - Guggul.

Benzoin (also Loban) - Balsamic resin of the Styrax benzoin, or Benjamin tree.

Champak (also Champaka or Champa) - Balsamic resin of the Michelia champaca tree. It is native to India and has fragrant orange-yellow flowers.

Chandan - Sandalwood.

Civet - Oil produced in the perineal glands of various species of viverrids including the African civet (Civettictis civetta), large Indian civet (Viverra zibetha) and small Indian civet (Viverricula indica). Civet is a soft, almost liquid material. It is pale yellow when fresh, darkening in the light and becoming salve-like in consistency. Its odor is strong, even putrid as a pure substance, but once diluted it is pleasantly and sweetly aromatic. It is prepared for use in perfumery by solvent extraction to yield either a tincture (10 or 20 percent), an absolute, or a resinoid. Civet is of animal origin, and many people are allergic to civet oil.

Dashanga - An incense made of "Ten Ingredients" -- 6 parts kustha, 2 parts gur, 3 parts laksha, 5 parts nakhla, haritiki, and raal in equal parts, 1 part dapai, shilajay equal to 3 lav, 4 parts nagarmotha, and guggul one part -- usually in a powder, but can also be obtained as bathi or dhoop. It is made specifically for puja and havan.

Dhoop - A special kind of incense, frequently burned in temples. The incense ingredients are made into a paste and formed into rolls, also called "pastels" or "logs" which can sometimes be quite large.

Durbar - A characteristic, traditional incense recipe in which the paste of ingredients, which contains no fragrance-producing ingredients, is rolled around the stick and then dipped in a fragrance-producing oil.

Frankincense (also Olibanum or al-Luban) - An aromatic gum resin obtained from African and Asian trees of the genus Boswellia. The English word frankincense is derived from the Old French expression franc encens, meaning "high-quality incense". The word franc in Old French meant "noble" or "pure".

Gugul or Guggul or Gugal (also called Bdellium) - Balsamic resin of the Commiphora wightii bush, a flowering a shrub or small tree in the family Burseraceae. The guggul plant may be found from northern Africa to central Asia, but is most common in northern India. It is burned to drive away evil spirits as well as remove the evil eye from the home and its family members.

Halmadi - Balsamic resin of the Ailanthus malabarica tree.

Jatamansi - Spikenard.

Kasturi - Musk.

Kadamba (also Kadam) - Neolamarckia cadamba is an evergreen, tropical tree native to South and Southeast Asia. Known as "Parvati's tree", Radha and Krishna are supposed to have conducted their love play in the hospitable and sweet-scented shade of the kadamba tree..

Kesar - Saffron.

Khus (sometimes Ruh Khus or Khus-khus) - The aromatic root of the Andropogon muricatus grass, also called Vetivert.

Koh - Incense.

Makko - Charred coconut husk, used as a scent-free carrier for many types of incense.

Masala - A characteristic, traditional incense recipe in which the paste of ingredients contains the material that produces the fragrance. There are usually no essential oils used, the fragrance being produced, rather, by herbs, spices, woods and so forth that are incorporated into the paste before being rolled around the stick.

Mattipal - The Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa), a species of banyan fig native to Sri Lanka, Nepal and India, southwest China and Indochina east to Vietnam. It is known by a wide range of local names, such as Bo or pou (from the Sinhalese bo), Bodhi (in Thai Language), Pipal (peepal, peepul, pippala, pimpal, etc.), arali or Ashvastha tree.

Mogra (also Mugra) - Jasmine.

Myrrh - is a gum-resin extracted from a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora. Myrrh resin has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense and medicine. The genus of the myrrhs, Commiphora, is the most species-rich genus of flowering plants in the frankincense and myrrh family, Burseraceae, which also includes guggul and opopanax. The genus contains approximately 190 species of shrubs and trees, which are distributed throughout the (sub-)tropical regions of Africa, the western Indian Ocean islands, the Arabian Peninsula, India, and Vietnam.

Nagarmotha - Cyperus Scariosus, also known as Cypriol. It is a plant of the Cyperaceae family that grows wild in the Madhya Pradesh region of India, and is highly-prized for it's roots, which are used in aromatherapy, as a perfume, and for many other purposes.

Neroli - Bitter orange, Citrus aurantium.

Olibanum - Frankincense.

Opopanax - Fragrant oleo-gum-resin of Commiphora guidottii. It has been a major export article from Somalia since ancient times, and is called hebbakhade, habaghadi or habak hadi (habbak haddi) in Somali. It is an important ingredient in perfumery, known as scented myrrh, sweet myrrh, perfumed myrrh or perfumed bdellium. Sometimes the oleo-gum-resin of Commiphora holtziana (often treated as a synonym of C. erythraea or C. kataf), called habak hagar, habaq hagar ad or habbak harr in Somali, is also sold under the name of opopanax.

Oud (also Oude, Oodh, or Oudh) - Aloeswood

Parijat - Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, also known as night-flowering jasmine, is a a shrub or a small tree, which is a species of Nyctanthes native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. It is used in perfumery, incense, and in Ayurvedic medicine, for sciatica, arthritis, and fevers, and as a laxative.

Patchouli - (Pogostemon cablin) is a species of plant from the family Lamiaceae, commonly called the "mint" or "deadnettle" family. The plant grows as a bushy herb, with erect stems reaching around 75 centimetres (2.5 ft) in height and bearing small, pale pink-white flowers. It is native to tropical regions of Asia.

Petitgrain (also called petit grain, and petitgrain bigarade) is an essential oil that is extracted from the leaves and green twigs of the bitter orange tree (Citrus aurantium ssp. amara), and is used in perfumery and aromatherapy as a fresh-scented essential oil.

Sandalwood - (also Chandan) is a class of woods from trees in the genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and, unlike many other aromatic woods, they retain their fragrance for decades. Sandalwood oil is extracted from the woods for use. Both the wood and the oil produce a distinctive fragrance that has been highly valued for centuries. Consequently, species of these slow-growing trees have suffered overharvesting in past centuries.

Simpoi - A characteristic Tibetan-style incense stick, primarily based on Deodar Cedar, which is not rolled around a central bamboo stick, as are most Indian-style incenses.

Spikenard - (also called nard, nardin, and muskroot,) is an aromatic amber-colored essential oil derived from Nardostachys jatamansi, a flowering plant in the honeysuckle family which grows in the Himalayas of Nepal, China, and India. Spikenard oil is used as a perfume, an incense, a sedative, and an herbal medicine said to fight insomnia, birth difficulties, and other minor ailments. The plant is critically endangered, due to overharvesting.

Sugandha - Incense.


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