Abir Perfume Powder Traditional Aromatic of India

'Amritsar', oil on canvas painting by Charles W. Bartlett, c. 1940


HEDYCHIUM SPICATUM, Ham.
Fig.—Bot. Mag., t. 2300.
Hab.—China Himalaya. The tubers.
Vernacular.—Kdpur-kackri, Kachur-kacha, Kachri (Bind.), Kapdr-kachari (Mar., Quz.), Shiinai-kkhilik-kizhangu (Tarn.).
History, Uses, &C—Sati, the Sanskrit name for Curcuma Zcdoaria, is sometimes erroneously applied to this plant, which is not mentioned in the Raja Nirghanta. In the Himalayas it is known as Sheduri, and the leaves are made into mats which are used as sleeping mats by the hill people. The aromatic root-stocks are used as a perfume along with Henna (Lawsonia alba) in preparing the cloth known in the North-West Provinces as Malagiri (Watt). The sliced and dried root is an article of considerable importance in Indian trade, as it is a principal ingredient in the three kinds of Abir, or scented powder, used by the Hindus in worship, and as a perfume. White Abir is made from the following ingredients:—The root of Andropogon muricalus, the tubers of Hedychium spicatum, sandalwood and arrowroot (Indian), or flour of Sorghum. The kind of Abir called Ghhi in Hindi, and Padi in Guzerathf, contains in addition to the above ingredients the seeds of Prunvs Mahalib, Artemisia Sieversiana, the wood of Cetb-us Deodara, the tuber of Curcuma Zedoaria, cloves and cardamoms. Black Abir, or Bukka of the Deccan, contains in addition to all the above ingredients, Aloeswood, costus, the root of Nardostachys Jatamami, and liquid Storax. The scented powder of the Jains called Vusahhepa or III.—53
Pharmacographia Indica, Volume 3
 By William Dymock

The genus Curcuma of the Natural Order Zingiber aceaz, consist of plants with perennial root-stocks and annual stems. The tubers of some of the species, such as C. Zedoaria, C. Zerumbet and C. rubescens, are very agreeably fragrant, and in the pulverised state are used as an ingredient, together with cloves, cardamoms, Deodar, and other aromatics, in the compound called by the Hindus "Abir," and by the Bengalees, " Phag";* the Abir most generally used, however, contains the root of Hedychium Spicatum (q. v.) instead of Zodoary, combined with santal wood.
Odorographia: a natural history of raw materials and drugs used in ..., Volume 2
 By John Charles Sawer


Domestic and Sacred Uses.—Kapur-kachri is the principal ingredient in the three kinds of Abir or scented powder used as a perfume, and by the Hindus in their religious ceremonies. It is said also to protect cloth from the attacks of insects. In Garhwal it is employed to wash the newly married. Madden affirms that the pounded Root is smoked in the hookah with tobacco. The Leaves (sheauri—Simla) are twisted and made into mats which constitute the chief sleeping mats used by the hill people.
Gossypium to Linociera
 By Sir George Watt, Edgar Thurston, T. N. Mukharji, India. Dept. of Revenue and Agriculture


Hedychium spicatum, Ham., Bot. Mag., I. 2300.
Vernacular.—Kdfdr-kachrf, Kaptir-kachri {Hind., Beng. and Bomb.), Shimai-kich-chilik-kizhangu (Tarn.)
History, Uses, fyc.—Kapiir-kachrf, Kapurakachali (Sans.), is an article of considerable importance in Indian trade, as it is a principal ingredient in the three kinds of Abir,or scented powder, used by the Hindus in worship, and as a perfume. White Abir is made from the following ingredients:—The root of Andropogon muricatus, the tuber of Hedychium spicatum, sandalwood, and arrowroot (Indian), or flour of Sorghum. The kind of Abir called Ghisf in Hindi, and Padi in Guzerathf, contains in addition to the above ingredients the seeds of Prunus Mahalib, Artemisia Sieversiana, the wood of Pious Deodara, the tuber of Curcuma Zerumbet, Roxb., cloves and cardamoms. Black Abir, or Bukka of the Deccan, contains in addition to all the above ingredients, Aloes-wood, costus, the root of Nardostachys Jatamansi, and liquid Storax. The scented powder of the Jains called Vasakhepa or Vasakshepa, does not contain it, but consists of sandalwood, saffron, musk, and Borneo camphor. Two kinds of Kaptir-kachri are found in the Bombay market, viz., Chinese and Indian; the latter was supposed by Royle to be the Sittarittee or lesser Galangal of Ainslie. (Mat. Ind. I., p. 140), but Moidin Sheriff states that the Sittarittee of the Tamils is the true lesser Galangal, which statement appears to be correct. Powell informs us that the rhizome is pounded with tobacco and smoked in the Punjab.
The Vegetable materia medica of western India
 By William Dymock

Abir is a grateful perfumed powder, the simplest and most common variety of which is made of rice flour or powdered mango or deodar cyperus mixed with camphor and aniseed. A superior variety is made of powdered sandalwood, zedoary, rose flowers, camphor, and civet, all pounded, sifted,and mixed. The dry powder is rubbed on the face and body and sprinkled on clothes to scent them. A powder of the same name, used by Hindus to fling about at the Holi festival, was formerly made of the rhizome of Curcuma zedoaria, powdered, purified, dried, and mixed with a decoction of sappan wood.
Islam in India: Or, The Qānūn-i-Islam̄; the Customs of the Musalmāns of ...
 By Jaʻfar Sharīf