Attar, also known as Ittar, is a form of naturally distilled perfume oil usually derived from herbs, flower petals, spices, barks, and other natural substances. Unlike Western perfumery, which uses alcohol as the solvent for perfume, Attars are always naturally distilled and never use synthetic materials. The word Attar comes from the Arabic word iṭr meaning perfume or essence. Some common attars include Rose, Jasmine, and Musk. In order to create Attar, the ingredients undergo a painstaking, meticulous, and precise process to ensure the highest quality product.
The fascinating process of Attar productions begins with the simmering of natural materials from which the fragrances are derived. The ingredients are simmered in large copper stills known as degh in Hindi. After the materials are placed within the degh, it is covered with cotton and clay on its edges to seal the vat. Once it has been brought to a boil, the scent-infused steam is transferred to another copper still which is filled with sandalwood oil. Then the aromatic molecules interact with the sandalwood, and the sandalwood oil becomes the solvent for the aroma.
The history of Attar production goes back almost 60,000 years in India, where rudimentary stills for Attar production were discovered in the Indus Valley Civilization. However, Attars only gained popularity on the Indian Subcontinent during the Mughal Empire, where the town of Kannauj, the “perfume city of India” became the hub of Attar production during the 16th through 19th centuries. In fact, we here at Travertine source our sandalwood from Kannauj. Just as the creation of Attar oil is a painstaking and time-honored process, Travertine perfumes go through months of testing to produce the highest quality products for your enjoyment. If you are interested in looking through our perfume line, click here.