Scents and Sensuality in India

in Module
Published on: 15 May 2018

William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple is a historian, art critic and writer based in the UK and New Delhi, India. His non-fiction books have received numerous awards and he is also one of the co-founders of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

As a part of the collaboration between Sahapedia and the Rupayan Sansthan, Jodhpur, William Dalrymple delivered a talk titled 'Scent and Sensuality in India' at Arna Jharna: The Desert Museum in December 2017. In this talk, Dalrymple examines how pre-modern South Asia had one of the most refined senses of smell with a culture that venerated different kinds of perfumes or attar associated with the realm of aesthetic pleasure, erotic cultures and discourses on health and well-being. He further goes on to explore the remnants of these cultures in the perfumeries centred around Kannauj and Lucknow and points out the ways that a new generation of perfumiers have been tapping into indigenous knowledge systems and making these perfumes more suitable for a 21st-century clientele. This module also includes audio-video footage of Langa and Manganiar folk artists performing songs at event on antaryo, the local name for ittar.