Sandalwood and Carrion: Smell in Indian Religion and Culture

Paperback | October 30, 2012

byJames McHugh

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James McHugh offers the first comprehensive examination of the concepts and practices related to smell in pre-modern India. Drawing on a wide range of textual sources, from poetry to medical texts, he shows the deeply significant religious and cultural role of smell in India throughout thefirst millennium CE.McHugh describes sophisticated arts of perfumery, developed in temples, monasteries, and courts, which were connected to a worldwide ocean trade. He shows that various religious discourses on the purpose of life emphasized the pleasures of the senses, including olfactory experience, as a valid endin themselves. Fragrances and stenches were analogous to certain values, aesthetic or ethical, and in a system where karmic results often had a sensory impact-where evil literally stank-the ethical and aesthetic became difficult to distinguish.Sandalwood and Carrion explores smell in pre-modern India from many perspectives, covering such topics as philosophical accounts of smell perception, odors in literature, the history of perfumery in India, the significance of sandalwood in Buddhism, and the divine offering of perfume to thegods.

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James McHugh offers the first comprehensive examination of the concepts and practices related to smell in pre-modern India. Drawing on a wide range of textual sources, from poetry to medical texts, he shows the deeply significant religious and cultural role of smell in India throughout thefirst millennium CE.McHugh describes sophistica...

James McHugh is Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:October 30, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199916322

ISBN - 13:9780199916320

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsPrefacePart One: Smells in Theory1. Introduction2. Earth, Wind, Foul and Fragrant: The Theory of Smelling and Odors in Medieval South AsiaPart Two: Smells in the World3. Lotus, Fish and Cows: The Smell-Scape of Traditional South Asia4. Flowers and Fish in the MahabharataPart Three: Smells in Practice5. Moon Juice and Uproar: Perfumery Texts6. Allies, Enemies and Yaka Mud: PerfumesPart Four: Aromatic Materials7. The Incense Trees of the Land of Emeralds: Exotic Aromatics in Medieval South Asia8. Sandalwood: Merchants, Expertise and ProfitPart Five: Smell and Religion9. Bois des Isles10. The Toilette of the GodsEpilogueAppendix: Sanskrit and Prakrit Texts on Perfume Blending and PerfumeryBibliography