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Minyak atar (attar) yang dijual di dataran puncak Jabal Rahmah, Mekah.jpg
Attar sold at the apex of Jabal ar-Rahmah (Mount Arafat), Mecca
Solidity at 20 °C (68 °F) liquid

Ittar (Hindi/Urdu), also known as attar, is an essential oil derived from botanical sources. Most commonly these oils are extracted via hydro or steam distillation. They can also be expressed by chemical means but generally natural perfumes which qualify as ittars are distilled with water. The oils are generally distilled into a wood base such as sandalwood and then aged. The aging period can last from one to ten years depending on the botanicals used and the results desired. Technically ittars are distillates of flowers, herbs, spices and other natural materials such as baked soil over sandalwood oil/liquid paraffins using hydro distillation technique with deg and bhapka. These techniques are still in use today at Kannauj in India. This is one of the oldest natural fragrant materials, nearly 5000 years old. Some of the first lovers of ittars were the Mughal nobles of India.[1] Jasmine ittar was the favorite perfume of the Nizams of the Hyderabad state. Traditionally in the Eastern world, it was a customary practice of nobility to offer ittar to their guests at the time of their departure. The ittars are traditionally given in ornate tiny crystal cut bottles called as itardans. This tradition of giving a scent to one's guests continues to this day in many parts of the Eastern world. Among Sufi worshipers the use of Ittars during meditation circles and dances is quite common.


The word 'attar', 'ittar' or 'itra' believed to have been derived from the Persian word itir, meaning 'perfume'.[2]

Uses & Types[edit]

Ittars have special medical value and they are generally classified based on their effect on human body such as warm ittars’ such as musk, amber and kesar (saffron) are used in winters, they increase the body temperature. Cool ittars such as rose, jasmine, khus, kewda and mogra are used in summers and have cooling effect on the body.[3]

Spirituality & Religion[edit]

For thousands of years ittars were used and understood to be something that attracted angels and warded off darkness or evil spirits. Saints and spiritual aspirants would adorn themselves with the finest scents to assist them in their journey towards enlightenment.[4]

The different sects of Hinduism worship deities through household and temple offerings. Food, flowers incense etc. are commonly used.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^",How Mumbai's oldest Ittar market is keeping its business alive,
  2. ^ Singh, Nagendra Kr; Mabud Khan, Abdul (2001). Encyclopaedia of the World Muslims: Tribes, Castes and Communities, Volume 1. Global Vision Pub House. p. 89. 
  3. ^ Umanadh, J B S (Aug 19, 2012). "Adding fragrance to festival". 
  4. ^ de Souza, Marian; Bone, Jane; Watson, Jacqueline (2016). Spirituality across Disciplines: Research and Practice:. Springer. p. 36. ISBN 9783319313801. Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "Why are puja articles arranged in specific five layers?". Hindu Jagruti. Retrieved 2 May 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Chemical Industries in India by H. E. Watson Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Volume 18, Issue 7, Year 1926, Pages 748 - 752.
  • Buchanan's account of the manufacture of rose-water and other perfumes at Patna in A.D. 1811 and its bearing on the history of Indian perfumery industry, by P. K. Gode, New Indian Antiquary 7, 181–185; also in: SICH I (1961), 36–42, Year 1946.
  • Studies in the history of Indian cosmetics and perfumery: Notes on the history of the rose, rose-water and attar of roses—Between B.C. 500 and A.D. 1850 by P. K. Gode, New Indian Antiquary 8, 107–119; also in: SICH I (1961), 15–35 Year 1946.
  • Studies in Indian Cultural History, by P.K.Gode, Vol. I, Year 1961, Hoshiarpur.
  • A useful pathological condition of wood by M. Jalaluddin Economic Botany, Volume 31, Issue 2, April 1977, Pages 222–224.
  • Perfumery in ancient India by Krishnamurthy R Indian J Hist Sci., Volume 22, Issue 1, Jan 1987, Pages 71–79.
  • Attars of India – A Unique Aroma by J. N. Kapoor Perfumer & Flavorist Jan/Feb 1991, Pages 21–24.
  • Indian attars by Christopher Mcmohan International Journal of Aromatherapy, Volume 7, Issue 4, Year 1996, Pages 10–13.
  • India Where Attars Originated by Omprakash Yemul India Perspectives, March 2004 Page 40.
  • Traditional system for the production of kewda essential oil and attar by D K Mohapatra & S Sahoo Indian Journal of traditional Knowledge, Vol 6(3), July 2007 Pages 399–402.
  • Traditional method of Chuli oil extraction in Ladakh by Deepa H Dwivedi & Sanjai K Dwivedi Indian Journal of traditional Knowledge, Vol 6(3), July 2007, Pages 403–405.
  • Ecology and traditional technology of screw pine perfume industry in coastal Orissa by Deenabandhu Sahu & Malaya Kumar Misra Indian Journal of traditional Knowledge, Vol 6(3), July 2007.
  • Kewda Perfume Industry in India 1 by P. K. Dutta, H. O. Saxena and M. Brahmam Economic Botany, Vol 41(3), July 1987, Pages 403–410.
  • Rose cultivation for Attar production in Bulgaria [manufacturing of Scent] by Rai B. Indian Horticulture (India) Vol 29(4), Mar 1985, Pages 13–18.
  • Material that is old and new (No.28). Present and past of perfumeby OE HIDEFUSA Expected Materials for the Future Volume 3, No 5, Year 2003, Pages 66–71.
  • Parisrut the earliest distilled liquor of Vedic times or of about 1500 B.C. by Mahdihassan S. Indian J Hist Sci. volume 16 Issue 2, Nov 1981, Pages 223–229.
  • A brief history of Indian alchemy covering pre-Vedic to Vedic and Ayurvedic period (circa 400 B.C.-800 A.D.). by Ali M. Bull Indian Inst Hist Med Hyderabad Volume 23, Issue 2, Jul 1993, Pages 151 - 166.
  • Indian Alchemy: its Origin and Ramifications. In Chemistry and Chemical Techniques in India (Ed.) Subbarayappa, B.V., Delhi: Centre for Studies in Civilizations Year 1999.
  • History of Chemistry and Alchemy in India from Pre-historic to Pre- Modern Times. In History of Indian Science and Technology an Culture AD 1000–1800 (Ed) A. Rahman. Year 1998. Oxford.
  • Preparation and Testing of Perfume as described in Brhatsamhita Sachin A Mandavgane, P P Holey and J Y Deopujari Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge Vol 8(2), April 2009 Page 275–277.
  • Dragoco Report. Dr Paolo Rovesti. Year 1975.