From mouth fresheners to erotic perfumes: The evolving socio-cultural significance of nutmeg, mace and cloves in South Asia

Thomas J. Zumbroich


This enquiry presents facets of the historical geography and cultural history of nutmeg, mace and cloves, as a chapter in the broader and hitherto neglected discourse of the role of aromatics in the pursuit of a sophisticated and sensuous life style in South Asia. I will be exploring here how and when a select group of fragrant plant products arrived on the Indian subcontinent from the far reaches of the Indo-Malay archipelago, eventually to be sought after in the royal courts and celebrated by Sanskrit poets.

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