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God Sweat, Whale Guts, And Foot Scents: The History Of Perfume

Updated 28 Dec 2018 7.3k views15 items

Perfume came a long way before Chanel N°5. These days, many people dab on a touch of perfume or cologne every morning, but perfume in the past was a luxury item associated with deities. Egyptians even called perfume the sweat of the sun god, and Romans believed perfume connected them to the divine.

Perfume history isn't all roses. In fact, many popular perfume recipes contained oil found in a whale's intestine or liquid from the anal glands of cats. Today, many of the best fragrance makers use synthetic ingredients, but in the early days, perfumers hunted down exotic scents to impress buyers like Catherine de Medici and Napoleon - who went through a shocking amount of cologne each month.

Perfume wasn't just a luxury item, however. Doctors warned people to use perfume to ward off disease since they believed that even royalty suffered from bad smelling environments that could transmit plague - medieval castles were especially dirty. Many elites carried scented ornaments at all times to protect themselves from foul smells, preferring the scent of beaver glands to human body odor.

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