Frankincense (Boswelia carteri)
Usage / Preparation
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Bible Frankincense, Olibanum, Olibano, Boswellia carteri, Boswellia carterii, Boswellia, Encens, Frankincense, Gum Thus, Incienso, Weihrauch, Wierook.
Frankincense its haunting fragrance has been characterized as fresh, sweet, woody, balsamic, slightly spicy and fruity. Perfume-note: Base.
Frankincense preserves spiritual energy, is an enhancement for meditation, and can help to maintain a clear mind. It is still used ritually in the catholic church during religious ceremonies for devotional cleansing and purification of the soul. It was an important ingredient in the preservation of the bodies of the pharaohs. An important oil for anointing the dead and dying, for assisting in transition and keeping the soul connected to its divine essence. It is excellent for the sixth chakra, assisting in altering perception of truth and promoting clairvoyance. Due to its relaxing effect on the nervous system, the fragrance of Frankincense incense or oil can help against inner anxiety, improve concentration and help slow down and deepen the breath during meditation. It has also been known to promote a restful sleep. It is soothing and calming the mind. Recommended for meditation, prayer and increasing perception and consciousness. Frankincense helps to connect to the deepest, most divine, part of ourselves. It has been used in baths with intention to wash away unwanted feelings and energies.
Frankincense contains resins, a volatile oil, water-soluble gum, bassorin, and plant residues. The resins are composed of boswellic acid and alibanoresin. It contains monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes. The major components are duva-3,9,13-trien-1,5alpha-diol-1-acetate, octyl acetate, o-methyl anisole, naphthalene decahydro-1,1,4a-trimethyl-6-methylene-5-(3-methyl-2-pentenyl), thunbergol, phenanthrene-7-ethenyl-1,2,3,4,4a,5,6,7,8,9,10,10a-dodecahydro-1,1,4a,7-tetramethyl, alpha-pinene, sclarene, 9-cis-retinal, octyl formate, verticiol, decyl acetate, and n-octanol. Further limonene, borneol, farnesol, myrcene have been found.
Frankincense was one of the most highly praised substances of the ancient world. It was traditionally produced in Yemen and Oman, and by 1000 BC, Frankincense was already a rare and important product. Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Rome, Greece, and China, all made use of this resin. The oldest written record of incense was found in the tomb of queen Hathsepsut from the 15th century BC. Frankincense was an important trade product, and Plinius the Elder wrote that control of the Frankincense trade had made the south Arabians the richest people on earth. For this reason, the Romans later tried to conquer the Frankincense producing regions, but they did not succeed. In those days, Frankincense was more precious than gold. Frankincense is also named "Olibanum", derived from "Al Luban", the Arabic word for milk.
The kohl, or black powder with which the Egyptian women paint their eyelids, is made of charred Frankincense, or other odoriferous resins mixed with Frankincense. It is also melted to make a depilatory, and it is made into a paste with other ingredients to perfume the hands. A similar practice is described by Herodotus as having been practiced by the women of Scythia and is alluded to in Judith x. 3 and 4. In cold weather, the Egyptians warm their rooms with a brazier whereon incense is burnt, Frankincense, Benzoin and Aloe wood being chiefly used for the purpose.
The ceremonial incense of the Jews was compounded of four "sweet scents", of which pure Frankincense was one, pounded together in equal proportion. It is frequently mentioned in the Pentateuch. Pure Frankincense formed part of the meet offering and was also presented with the shew-bread every Sabbath day. With other spices, it was stored in a great chamber of the House of God at Jerusalem. According to Herodotus, Frankincense to the amount of 1000 talents weight was offered every year, during the feast of Bel, on the great altar of his temple in Babylon. The religious use of incense was as common in ancient Persia as in Babylon and Assyria, and the modern Parsis of Western India still preserve the ritual of incense.
Frankincense became the most important incense burned in catholic churches around the world. Of course, Frankincense played an important role in catholic history. It is said that the three wise men who travelled to Bethlehem to worship the newborn child, Jezus, had with them three gifts: Gold, Myrrh and Frankincense.
Native to the Red Sea regions and growing wild throughout North East Africa, Frankincense is produced mainly in Somalia, China and South Arabia and to a lesser extent India. Boswellia is a small tree or shrub with abundant pinnate leaves and white or pale pink flowers. The plant has a distinctive woody, spicy aroma with a hint of lemon. From this leafy forest tree Frankincense, a natural oleo gum, is obtained by making deep incisions in the trunk and collecting the gum given off. This gum, the Frankincense, soon solidifies into tear-shaped amber to orange brown lumps about 1 to 4cm. The clear lumps are gathered first. The portion which has run down the side of the tree or has fallen to the ground, constitutes an inferior sort. The season for gathering lasts from May till the middle of September, when the first shower of rain puts a close to the gathering for that year.
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|The word "incense", meaning originally "the aroma given off with the smoke of any odoriferous substance when burnt", has been gradually restricted almost exclusively to Frankincense, also known as Olibanum. Frankincense has always been obtainable in Europe in greater quantity than any other of the aromatics imported from the East. The botanical origin of Frankincense is Boswelia carteri, although other Boswelia species are used as a source of Frankincense. In use for over 5000 years, this fragrant desert resin has been prized by many cultures around the world for its therapeutic and spiritual properties. Frankincense has become the most important ingredient of incense used in the catholic church.|