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Book: Roots of Wisdom, Branches of Devotion

Chapter: 4. Perfumed Islam: The Culture of Scent at the Nizamuddin Basti

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30831


Mikko Viitamäki
opens up this section with his study of ʿitr, volatile essential oils extracted
from different plant material and widely used within the religious culture
of Indian Sufis. From as early as the medical work of Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna,
d. 1037), Sufis have contributed to create a culture of scent through which
essential oils enable them to engage the olfactory sense in boosting their
personal religious practice. Through his ethnographic fieldwork conducted
at the Sufi shrine of Nizamuddin Auliyaʾ in Delhi, Viitamäki assesses
an enduring tradition vis-à-vis the impact on the contemporary market
where more affordable and long-lasting synthetic oils are available.

Chapter Contributors

  • Mikko Viitamäki ( - mviitamaki) 'University of Helsinki '