One’s scent becomes his/her symbol. The scent of a beautiful person has a deeper echo. The scent of a perfume often brings back the memory of a person who used to wear it. Many people have known about this fact everywhere around the world, and made ceaseless efforts to smell good. Specific records on the use of perfume or incense in Korea have been found since the Age of Three Empires. The east wall of the murals of Ssangyeongchon Tombs from Goguryeo depicts a girl who is carefully carrying incense, and Seoguram and Emille Bell have the engravings of incense burners along with beautiful flowers. Also, a number of small aroma oil bottles and incense pockets that carried solid perfumes were excavated, and we can assume that traditional people preciously burned incense or carried incense with them. Incense pockets carried imported incense from India or Mainland China, or naturally fragrant petals, stems, barks, and roots that were dried, ground, mixed with grease, put in small porcelain bottles, and used with fingertips.
According to <Goryeodogyeong>, “The royal palace of Goryeo burns musk,
Anacardiaceae, Drybalanops, Santalum, and aloeswood.” Also, the incense was dipped in
boiling water to infuse wardrobes with the scent. The noble women of that time also enjoyed
wearing silk incense pockets or used stuffed white hemp sacks with fragrant grass as pillows.
They bathed in orchid tea or perfumed water to wear the scent.
The pursuit of fragrance in the Goryeo Dynasty continued in the Joseon Dynasty. They burned musk and orchids to set the mood in bedrooms, and both men and women wore incense pockets. Musk or Santalum were particularly popular. Musk was a precious material collected from musk deer’s excrement, and it was most preferred by noble women. Sandalwood, which leaves its scent on the ax that fells it, has also been used as a source of perfume for a long time in the East and in the West. Sandalwood oil, which soothes the mind and concentrates your spirit, is also effective for skincare.
In the west, incense has been used actively since the ancient times, and was a symbol of wealth and power that was always the No. 1 item of commerce. Traditionally, animal perfumes, such as musk from musk deer, ambergris from sperm whales, and civet from common palm civets, have been considered valuable due to their high prices and rarity. However, light and natural scents from flowers or plants were also popular, and they were often extracted from honeysuckles, Ranunculus, hyacinth. The peels of tangerines with high oil content, such as lemons, and bergamot, were also pressed to extract scented oil.