KUWAIT: Incense, perfumes and Oudh (aloeswood) oil are among the most important characteristics of Kuwait homes, and play a central role in welcoming guests into one’s home. The choice, variety and prices of these items vary greatly according to the country of origin as well as the seasons, with the prices reaching their highest levels during periods like the present as preparations for Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr see householders laying in large supplies as they prepare to host numerous guests. Stores compet e with special offers, placing incense burners outside in order to attract customers and promote their products.
Mohammad Al-Enezi, an incense retailer in Mubarakiya, revealed that the scientific name for the tree from which aloeswood comes is Aquilaria. These large, evergreen trees, which can live for up to 100 years, grow across South Asia, particularly in India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Thailand, he explained.
Al-Enezi said that the Oudh oil is produced when the aloeswood trees become infected with a type of mold. Prior to infection, the heartwood is relatively light and pale-colored; however, as the infection progresses, the tree produces a dark aromatic resin in response to the attack, which results in a very dense, dark, resin-embedded heartwood. This resin-embedded wood is commonly called gaharu, jinko, aloeswood, agarwood, or Oudh and is valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance, and thus is use d for incenses and perfumes.
Al-Enezi explained that, unfortunately, since it is not possible to distinguish the infected trees from the healthy ones from the outside, some of those searching for Oudh resin cut down the trees randomly, harming the environment and ironically significantly reducing the number of trees which their livelihood is reliant on.
The incense merchant added that Indian incense is the most globally popular and expensive variety due to its deep, black color and heavy weight, as well as its distinctive aroma, with those from Cambodia and Burma being the next most costly.