In the beginning…
Myrrh, a fragrant resin, has a history as complex and rich as its scent. The resin of the myrrh tree has been used since ancient times for a variety of sacred and medicinal purposes. In ancient Egypt, it was used in embalming and religious rituals. The Greeks and Romans often burned myrrh as incense during religious ceremonies. In biblical texts, myrrh is mentioned several times, notably as one of the gifts offered by the three wise men at the birth of Jesus. In Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, myrrh has been used as a remedy for many illnesses.
The myrrh tree, or Commiphora myrrha, grows mainly in the arid regions of East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, notably in Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The tree's resin is harvested by making incisions in the tree's bark and allowing the sap to dry to form pieces of resin known as "myrrh tears".
Growing the myrrh tree requires a semi-arid climate and well-drained soil. The tree is drought-resistant and can survive in difficult conditions. Myrrh is harvested from November to January, when the sap has solidified after running off the tree. Harvesting is a laborious process requiring specific skills and know-how to avoid damaging the tree.
What do you know about myrrh in perfumery?
Raw myrrh is cleaned of impurities, then distilled to extract the essential oil. This oil, rich in sesquiterpenes, gives myrrh its unique fragrance. In perfumery, myrrh oil is used as a fixative to prolong the life of other scents in a perfume. It can also be used to give body and depth to a fragrance.
Myrrh belongs to the amber family of scents. Fragrances in this family are often rich, opulent and spicy, with a resinous warmth. They are often combined with base notes, giving a sense of mystery and sophistication.
The scent of myrrh is complex and difficult to describe. It is often described as having a balsamic, slightly spicy and slightly smoky odor. Some people say it has a note of undergrowth or dried earth. Its fragrance is resinous and rich.
Myrrh blends well with a variety of other fragrance notes. It is often combined with other resins such as frankincense, benzoin and labdanum. Citrus, spices and woods can add depth and complexity. Rose and jasmine can add a floral touch, creating a rich, sumptuous fragrance.
Some popular myrrh perfumes
• Opium by Yves Saint Laurent
Launched in 1977, Opium by Yves Saint Laurent is a spicy oriental fragrance that has become a true perfume icon. Myrrh, combined with other notes such as clove, cinnamon and pepper, gives Opium its distinctly oriental and daring character. The base notes are dominated by patchouli, musk and amber, reinforcing the fragrance's depth and sensuality.
• Myrrhe et Délires by Guerlain
Myrrhe et Délires is a warm, bewitching fragrance from the House of Guerlain. Light floral top notes give way to a heart dominated by myrrh. The fragrance also features notes of licorice and patchouli, creating an interesting contrast between sweet and bitter. Vanilla softens the whole, offering a gentle, delicately woody finish.
• Myrrhe Impériale by Giorgio Armani
Part of the "Armani Privé" collection, Myrrhe Impériale is a tribute to the Orient. Myrrh reigns supreme, exuding all its resinous, almost smoky richness. It's beautifully enveloped by the warmth of amber and the gourmand sweetness of vanilla. The result is a luxurious, refined fragrance that evokes the opulence of oriental palates.
• Myrrh & Musk by Rebatchi
A magnetic fragrance, where the sacred scents of myrrh and frankincense wrap themselves in a silky caress. Airy with juniper and pink berries at the top, its trail undulates between the softness of musk and the depth of woods. Both addictive and mysterious.
• La Myrrhe by Serge Lutens
An eau de parfum from the exclusive "Les Salons du Palais Royal" collection.This fragrance features myrrh with its resinous, slightly bitter notes from the very first scents, illuminated by touches of aldehydes. The heart of the fragrance blends myrrh, amber and wood, creating a deep warmth. At the base, vanilla and musk add sensual sweetness, balancing the bitterness of myrrh. It's a complex, captivating fragrance, ideal for lovers of oriental and resinous scents, combining the ancient mystery of myrrh with contemporary sophistication.