The cyclopædia of India and of eastern and southern Asia ..., Volume 4 By Edward Balfour

The cyclopædia of India and of eastern and southern Asia ..., Volume 4
By Edward Balfour

ROSE ATTAR. Hind. Pers. | Otto Eso.

In India, the perfumed oils or attar are obtained in the following manner. The layers of the jasmine, or Other flowers, four inches thick and two inches square, are laid on the ground and covered with a layer of sesamum or any other oil-yielding seed. These are laid about the same thickness as the flowers, over which a secoud layer of flowers like the first is placed. The seed is wetted with water, and the whole mass covered with a sheet, held down at the ends and sides by weights, and allowed to remain for eighteen hours in this form. It is now fit for the mill, unless the perfume is desired to be very strong, when the faded flowers are removed and fresh ones put in their place. The seed thus impregnated is ground in the usual way in the mill and the oil expressed, having the scent of the flower. At Ghazipoor the jasmine and bela are chiefly employed ; the oil is kept in the bottles of hide, called dubber, and sold for about 4s. a seer. The newest oils atford the finest perfume. In Europe a fixed oil, usually that of the bean cr moringa nut, is employed. Cotton is soaked in this, and laid over layers of flowers, the oil being squeezed out so soon as impregnated with perfume. Dr. Jackson thus describes the culture of the rose in India and manufacture of rose-attar or rose water. Around the station of Ghazipoor, there are about 300 biggahs (or about 150 acres) of ground laid out in small detached fields as rose gardens, most carefully protected on all sides by high mud walls aud prickly pear fences, to keep out tbe cattle. These lands, which belong to zemindars, axe planted with rose trees, and are annually let out at so much per biggah for the ground, and so much additional for the rose plants— generally five rupees per biggab and twentyfive rupees for the rose trees, of which there are 1,000 in each biggah. The additional expense for cultivation would be about eight rupees, eight annas ; so that for thirty-eight rupees, eight annas you have for the season one biggah of 1,000 rose trees. If the season be good, this biggah of 1,000 rose trees should yield one lac of roses. Purchases for roses are always made at so much per lac. The price of course varies according to the year, and will average from 40 to 70 rupees. The rose trees ctrme into flower at the beginning of March, and ! continue so through April. Early in the morning the flowers are plucked by numbers of men, women and children, and are conveyed in large bags to the several contracting parties for distillation into rose-water. The cultivators themselves very rarely manufacture. The native apparatus for distilling the rose-water consists of a large copper or iron boiler well tinned



capable of holding from eight to twelve gallons, bavmg a large body with a rather narrow neck, and a mouth about eight inches in diameter; on the top of this is fixed an oM pot or deah-chre, or cooking vessel, with a hole in the centre to receive the tube or worm. This tube is composed of two pieces of bambno, fastened at an acute angle, and it is covered the whole length with a strong binding of corded string, over which is a luting of earth to prevent the vapour from escaping. The small end. about two feet long, is fixed into the hole in the centre of the head, where it is well luted with flowers and waier. The lower arm or end of the tube is ramed down into a lonif-necked vessel or receiver, called a bhulka. This is placed in a pot of water, which, as it gets hot, is changed. The head of the still is luted on to the body, and the long arm of the tube in the bhulka is also well provided with a cushion of cloth, so as to keep in all vapour. The boiler is let into an earthen furnace, and the whole is ready for operation. There is a great variety of rose-water manufactured in the bazar, and much that bears the name, is nothing more than a mixture of sandal oil. The best rose-water, however, procurable in the bazar, may he computed as bearing the proportion of one thousand roses to a seer of water; from one thousand roses most generally a seer and a half of rosewater is distilled, and perhaps from this even the attar has been removed. The boiler of the still will hold from eight to twelve or sixteen thousand roses. On eight thousand roses from tsn to eleven seers of water will be placed, and e ght seers of rose-water will be distilled. This, after distillation, is placed in a carboy of glass, and is exposed to the sun for several days to become pucka or ripe ; it is then stopped with cotton, and has a covering of moist clay put over it: this becoming hard, effectually prevents the scent from escaping. This is the best that can be procured, and tbe price will be from twelve to sixteen rupees.

To procure the attar, or otto of roses, the roses are put into the still, and the water passes over gradually, as in the case of the rose-water process ;after the whole has come over, tbe rose-water is placed in a large metal basin, which is covered with wetted muslin, tied over to prevent insects or dust getting into it; this vessel is let into the ground about two feet, which has been previously wetted with water, and it is allowed to remain quiet during the whole night. The attar is always made at the beginning of the season, when the nights are cool ; in the morning the little film of attar which has formed upon the sur. face of the rose-water during the night is removed by means of a feather, and carefully placed in a small phial; and, day after

day, as the collection is made, it is placed for a short period in the sun, and after a sufficient quantity has been procured, it is poured off clear, and of the colour of amber, into small phials. Pure attar, when it has been removed only three or four days, has a pale greenish hue ; by keeping, it loses this and in a few weeks' time it becomes of a pale yellow. The first lew days distillation does not produce such fine attar as comes off afterwards, in consequence of the dust or little particles of dirt in the still and the tube being mixed with it. This is readily separated from its sinking to the bottom of tne attar, which melts at a temperature of 84 degrees. From one lac of rosea it is generally calculated that 180 grains, or one tolah of attar can be procured ; more than this can be obtained if the roses are fullsized, and the nights cold to allow of the congelation. The attar purchased in the bazar ia generally adulterated, mixed with sandal oil or sweet oil ; not even the richest native will give the price at which the purest altar alone can be obtained, and the purest attar that is made is sold only to Europeans, selling at from 50 to 90 rupees the tolah.

In India, Native stills are let out at so much per day or week, and it frequently occurs that the residents prepare some rose-water for their own use as a present to their friends, to secure their being provided with that which is the best. The natives of India never remove the calices of the rose-flowers, but place the whole into the still as it comes from the garden. The best plan appears to be to have these removed, as by this means the rose-water may be preserved a longer time, and is not spoiled by the acid smell occasionally met with in the native rose-water. It is usual to calculate 100 bottles to one lac of roses. Tbe rose-water should always be twice distilled; over ten thousand roses water may be put to allow of sixteen or twenty bottles coming out the following day; these twenty bottles are placed over eight thousand more roses, and about eighteen bottles of rose-water are distilled. This may be considered the best to be met with. The attar is so much lighter than the rose-water, that previous to use, it is better to expose the roee-w*ter to the sun for a few days, to allow of its being well mixed ;and rose-water that has been kept six months is always better than that which has recently been made. At the commencement of the rose season, people from all parts come to make their purchases, and very large quantities are prepared and sold. There are about thirtysix places in the city of Gbazeepore where rose-water is distilled. These people generally put a large quantity of sandal oil into the receiver, the oil is afterwards carefully removed and sold as sandal attar, and tbe water put into carboys and disposed of as rose-water. At the time of sale a few drops of sandal oil are placed on the neck of the carboy to (jive it fresh scent, and to many of the natives it appears perfectly immaterial whether the scent arise solely from the sandal oil or fr°m the roses. Large quantities of sandal of are every year brought up from the south of India and expended in this WHy.

The chief use the natives appear to make of the rose-water, or the sandal attar as they term it, is at the period of their festivals and weddings. It is then distributed largely to the guests as they arrive, and sprinkled with profusion in the apartments. A large quantity of rose-water is sohl at BeDares, and many of the native rajahs send over to Ghazipoor for its purchase. Most of the rose-water, so soon as distilled, is taken away, and after six months from the termination of the manufacture there are not more than four or five places where it is to be met with. The value of the roses sold for the manufacture of rose water may be estimated at 15,000 to 20,000 rupees a year ; and from tbe usual price asked for the rose-water, and for which it is sold, there may be a profit of 40,000 rupees. The natives are very fond of using the rose-water as medicine, or as a vehicle for other mixtures, and they consume a good deal of the petals for the conserve of roses, or gool-kand as they call it. The delightful fragrance from the Ghazipur rose fields can be scented at seven miles distance on the river Ganges. The most approved mode of ascertaining the quality of attar is to drop it on a piece of paper ; its strength is ascertained by the quickness with which it evaporates, and its worth by its leaving no stains on the paper. The best otto is now manufactured at Constantinople, and it is largely made in France.—O'6/taughneisy, p. 326.