Incense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the better

Smells are excited, attract, fascinating, warned and avert. We know that they are able to inspire sympathy and hostility, fear and delight. But in the east they know more

Incense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the better

The angry, southern, entrance to the market quarter is baked by bread and cakes, cups with meat stew are gurgling on fire, pots with mint tea and kshr is boiled, which is sometimes called Yemenic coffee. In a country where coffee trade has long been a source of well -being, enterprising merchants sell almost all the grain, and for personal needs leave a pulp of coffee berries, in fact, production waste. Yemenis brew the pulp with ginger, add sugar and a little amber, making the aroma of the drink more intense and more complicated.

Incense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the better

Closer to the center of the trading region, spiritual dust from bags with cardamom, zira, turmeric, saffron standing in the air, becomes denser. Sellers of spices use all the available market space: fill the shops with bags and block street passages. The scope of trade makes us recall that local residents controlled the turnover of spices between Asia and Europe up to the era of great geographical discoveries.

The main, basic notes of the fragrance of Yemen you feel in the depths of the suk al-Milch. In the shadow of linen canopies, in the twilight of the shops, scattering of frozen berths gleam. Ladan and Mirru are sold here. Incense of the ancient world and fabulous happy Arabia, as this country was called many centuries ago.

The aroma of desires

“Why do you need incense?”Asks the businessman incense. I will smell with an interference that they will send me for the word “souvenir” to the exit from the market, where they sell Indian aromatic sticks and other penny nonsense. Therefore, I act as a doctor at the doctor. The more details, the more correctly the diagnosis and choice of medicine. I explain that the best friend is getting married and I need a special gift.

Saffar, the name of the seller is the name, nods approvingly and dives into the depths of the shop. I note that his leather belt is decorated with agams not only in front, but also from behind. Foot is made of expensive fabric. On the handle of the dagger Jambia, without which men do not leave home, old gold coins shine. Bowl trade no longer brings fabulous income, as in antiquity, but there are enough revenues for life.

Saffar returns with a paper bundle. Inside there are large round tiles of the color of dark amber. “The best bahur for the wedding,” he says. In response to a timid objection that I asked for incense, the Yemenets sighs and begins to explain.

In Arabia, pure frankincense rarely burn, preferring to use bahur. This is a common name for complex incense. A special master mixes fragrant resins, oils, the cortex interpreted in the paste, adds Ambra, musk and sniffs all this on fire. The exact composition of Bachura is kept secret and transmitted only by inheritance. After cooking incense, they can stand so that the aromas “get married” with each other. For the manufacture of one kilogram of Bachura, a month can take. Hence the price. Up to two hundred dollars per hundred grams.

Incense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the better

The tiles of wedding bacchus look like a sugared buckwheat honey. The smell is sweet, spicy, languid. “This bahur is not for the celebration, but for a more important goal,” Suffar warns. – Let your friends fumigate the bedroom. Every evening for a honeymoon “.

I evaluate the elegant formulation with which they sell an aphrodisiac with me, and please advise the aroma for the house. The question “for what cases?’Persules me. I did not think that the meeting of friends, the reception of important guests or family holiday should smell differently.

With the help of incense in Yemen, they express love, create a feeling of comfort and bliss, make it clear to the guest how valuable is his visit. Saffar opens a pharmacy species with a bottle with chips, takes a piece the size of an apple petiole, puts a smileer in a copper mabhara and brings it to my nose.

“Sandal?” – I ask. The merchant grins without hiding a slight condescension. I inhale smoke again and recall the journey to the north of Lebanon, where the grove of relict cedars has survived. Trees heated in the sun smelled better than expensive perfume. Suffara chips smell even richer. As if wood was withstood in balmsamic vinegar.

Incense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the better

The seller says this is not a cedar, but a agar tree. The most expensive form of incense in the market. Suffard sells fragrant wood extracted in the jungle of Indonesia.

“This is the smell of good taste. And wealth. So people from noble families smell. Well, or those who want to make a similar impression. Smoke impregnate clothes, fumigate hair. A woman who exudes this aroma immediately distinguishes from the crowd. “.

A girl is passing past the bench in a black robe that is ordinary for Muslim countries, hiding the body and face. If the seller exaggerates the meaning of his product, then it is not much.

From Suffara, I take a fragrant package and a strict order, how, when and under what circumstances to use smells. In addition to valuable instructions, Saffar gives an equally valuable phone number of his friend Nadir. Nadir, Guide and Driver, is ready to carry me to the Khadramaut region, along the road that came incense of incense two thousand years ago.

The spirit of protection

The light smell of the ambra makes a battered “Landroover” salon more comfortable. Nadir wraps up the dashboard with the sheep’s skine “from the Sun”, straightens the amulets hanging at the rear view mirror, squeezes behind the wheel and pronounces “Bismillahi Rakhmani Rakhim”. So they usually say before an important matter: “In the name of Allah, Merciful and Merciful,” the Arab version of our “with God!”.

Incense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the better

The fact that the matter is important, I understand when at the border point at the entrance to Khadramaut, a young man sits down next to Nadir in military uniform. He straightens the Kalashnikov assault rifle, lays a generous armful of kata by the cheek and makes the sound of the radio, from where the chanting recitative prayer is heard, louder. The task of Mohammed, as Nadir represents, is to accompany tourists on travels outside of large cities. Conventional safety measures in Yemen.

Nadir leads a car along the bottom of a colossal Vadi, dry river riverbed with high slopes. Numerous Wadi cut a mountain plateau into isolated gorges, creating a bizarre landscape. Residents of two neighboring Vadi can regularly fly by plane in other cities, but never in their life do not meet with “neighbors”.

“There are no neighbors here. Here are tribes, ”says Nadir, a native of Hadramuta. “There is a difficult relationship between them”. Foggy wording, he finishes an inconvenient conversation.

Two millennia ago, local tribes fabulously got rich, controlling the path of the caravans with incense. For the passage through their territory, the Hadramians charged a tenth of the cargo. But the adoption of Christianity and the change of funeral rites in ancient Rome, one of the main consumers of aromas, brought down the demand for the Yemeni Ladan and Mirra back in the 4th century. The inheritance from the fairy kingdom of the modern Khadramians remained clay cities built in the desert, the ambitions of tribes, endlessly fighting with each other, and the aroma of incense.

“With this smell, we come to the world,” says Nadir. – newborn is fumigated in incense. Smoke drives away the disease and protects from the evil eye. Incense impregnate clothes, things, even machine guns. To serve longer. The guests of the house bypass Mabhara with incense around, so they report good intentions. Saying goodbye to the owners, they repeat the ritual. So that nothing happens along the road “.

At this moment, Nadir stops the car. The road breaks off, buried into the gate wrapped in barbed wire. From the bottom of Vadi, we climbed to the very top of the deserted plateau.

“Nobody ever built housing here, because all the sources of water are below,” says Nadir. “But a few years ago, a local businessman built a hotel, because there are beautiful views in Hadramout”.

A woman wrapped in traditional black clothes escorts us into the room. She carries heavy stone Mabhara. Nadir explains that in Khadramout he is fumigated at home at sunset and at dawn, when evil spirits are especially strong. Ladana smoke scares them off.

Remembering the prices in the market in the dignity, I am interested in whether it is an overhead every day to burn a pure incense. Nadir replies that in Yemen incense are available to every1. Just the poor will buy low -quality resin. Or Mirra. She is cheaper. She has a more pungent odor than incense. “But mosquitoes drive better!”

Incense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the better

I go out of the room to evaluate the view for which we climbed to the edge of civilization. To admire the panorama comparable in scale to the American Grand Canyon, the only hotel guests came. Big Yemeni family with children. The silhouettes of men and women against the background of the sunset sun are as if cut out of paper. You can immediately find out in this shadow theater Mohammed. According to the clear -based automatic machine at the right shoulder.

The aromas of the East

Incense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the better

Resin of the tree of the Boswelliy genus. The most common species of trees from which incense is extracted is Boswéllia Sacra. Such are growing in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, on the island of Sokotra and in the mountainous regions of Somalia.

The fragrant resin of some representatives of the family of commune. In addition to the south of the Arabian Peninsula, Sokotra and Somalia, they are common in Ethiopia, Djibuti, Eritrea and northeast Kenya.

The Arab name of the agar tree-the impregnated resin of the wood of Akvlaria growing in the jungle of Southeast Asia. The tree emits resin in response to the attack of the fungus of Phialophora Parasitica.

Wax -like substance that is formed in the intestinal tract of sperm whales. After the prohibition of industrial hunting for whales, Ambro is obtained randomly: caught in the ocean or found on the shore.

A secret produced by the glands of some animals, such as musky deer (Kabarga), African Qivetta, Ondatra, musky duck.

The smell of well -being

All the distillation from the hotel to the coastal city of El Mukhalla, from where I should fly to the homeland of incense trees, the island of Sokotr, Nadir and Mohammed keep silent. The smell of incense, which the car has smoked, is an effective remedy for troubles. The final segment of the path along the South Hadramout, the home territory of Al-Qaeda (prohibited in the Russian Federation), passes smoothly. At the Nadir airport, he will have fun. “Whatever happens on the Great Earth, everything will be calm on Sokotra,” he will admit.

About 20-30 million years ago, the Sokotra archipelago broke off the Arabian Peninsula, preserving, thanks to isolation, the unique flora and fauna. The absence of comfortable harbors and insidious currents secured the island from anthropogenic influence. The status of the natural reserve (2003) and the UNESCO World Heritage Object (2008) saved the Sokotr archipelago from mass tourism. And the remoteness from the mainland – from the direct influence of the protracted war.

Separation did not affect the friendliness of the islanders. Ahmet, a guide on Sokotra, meets me with a dazzling smile. In response to a request to buy tablets from motion sickness, gives out several peas of the tar of incense and says that local residents chew it to refresh their breath for a general t1. “Nausea also helps,” he promises.

Tarly odorous resins refreshes and relieves malaise, although we are going along the “most terrible road on the island” chosen by Akhmet for the first acquaintance. We rise to the Khomhil plateau, where, according to the guide, you can see the real Sokotra. Shepherds and Bedouins live in the mountains, whose ancestors settled on the island in the VI century. They collect resin from trees and know more about these plants than any1.

Incense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the better

We drive up to the village-a top ten houses, somehow composed of volcanic stones. Children are the first to run out on the road. Behind them, accompanied by four skinny goats, an elderly sokrotris appears in a striped feet and a woolen sweater. Akhmet says that it is Ali, and he will lead us to the fleece trees.

Ali’s barefoot walks on the ground, strewn with sharp stones, a light shepherd. Goats and children follow him. Fluttered barrels of bottle and cucumber trees stick out among the stones. Dragon trees, similar to gigantic umbrellas, are arguing with them in bizarre.

Ali knows all recipes. Smol of dragon trees treat wounds and inflammation. From the bark of Mirra, they make an infusion for children and goats to eat well and do not hurt. Dry branches of faint trees are collected and burned in the evenings near the trunk. Smoke soothes animals and they sleep better.

On the edge of the gorge cutting the plateau in half, Ali shows a tree clinging to the edge of the rocky ledge: “Zifa”. So the Sokrotrians call incense growing on the slopes of the mountains. If only one type of incense is distributed in the mainland Yemen – Boswellia Sacra, then there are eight on the Sokotra.

Ali shows traces of past pyrek on the barrel. With gestures, he explains how he makes incisions with a knife, bends the bark of a tree to form a “pocket” where the resin will drain. Ali protects the tree until the collection season. Small on Sokotra is collected in the summer months.

From the folds of the feet, the old man takes out a handful of light, almost white pebbles. Ahmet says that this is not an ordinary incense, but the highest quality resin. Sellers on the mainland appreciate it especially.

Ali refuses to set it on fire. Funny resin burn only Macoli, shamans. Their name is in case of great disaster, when conventional funds do not help. “Ladan is magic,” Ali says. – If you are not Macoli, then you should not do it “.

Ali screams at the goats trying to gnaw the bark of the tree. COS bark is bad. But the stems and leaves of incense – good. Goats then give a lot of milk. These animals on Sokotra appeared along with the first settlers, and over the past two thousand years, goat milk has become the basis of a diet for the islanders. They drink it in its pure form, added to tea, boil rice on it, make it yogurt and ghee from it.

Returning to the house, Ali asks us to give his son to the village on the shore. The teenager climbs into the back seat and in gratitude holds out a bowl of fresh cottage cheese. I try sweet cottage cheese and try to understand whether it really smells of incense and Mirra or is it a game of imagination. Is there a similarity between the legendary goat Amalfei, who nourished Zeus, and Sokroti goats, on whose milk local boys grow? It is possible that ancient myths about the distant island, whose people know the secret of eternal and happy life, are not a fairy tale, but a reality that, in the case of a sokotroy, should not even be embellished.

Orientation on the ground

Incense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the betterIncense for the people: how incense they change life in Yemen for the better

Square 527 968 km² (49th place in the world)
Population ~ 30 984,000 people. (48th place)
Population density 56.5 people/km²
Ichr 0.463 (177th place), one of the lowest in the world

ATTRACTIONS The old city in the dignity, the city of clay skyscrapers Shibam, the village of Hyde al-Jazil, the most picturesque in Hadramout, the palace on the rock of Dar al-Hajar.
TRADITIONAL DISHES Marak (saturated spicy meat broth), Salta (stew from meat with a fencing), Mandi (meat cooked in a tandoor type), Arica (spicy dessert with dates).
Traditional drinks Kshr, Shahi Halib (tea with milk and spices).
SOUVENIRS silver products, carpets and handmade bedspreads, baskets, honey of wild bees from Hadramout.

DISTANCE From Moscow to Sana ~ 4520 km (from 6 hours in flight excluding transplants)
TIME coincides with Moscow
VISA It is issued at the embassy
CURRENCY Yemensky RIL (1000 yer ~ 4 USD)

Photo: Hemis (X4), Sime (X3), Image Broker / Legion-Media, Reuters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *