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The Cultural Biography of Agarwood – Perfumery in Eastern Asia and the Asian Neighbourhood1

  • DINAH JUNG (a1)

Agarwood (especially 〔 沉 香 〕 Chinese chen xiang / 〔 沈 香 〕 Japanese jinkō), among other subspecies differentiated in East Asian languages, has caught international perfumery attention in conspicuous dimensions in the past years. It belongs to the most sought after perfumery raw materials in the world. The lucrative image of its business makes international businessmen, foreign scientists, perfumers, global industry representatives, as well as locals eager to participate in its international distribution and to improve its artificial mass cultivation and synthetic production. Moreover, efforts transgress mere economic activities in Eastern Asia when perfumery devotees engage in historical research and perfumery experiments, or when they publish on their experiences, as well as when they establish networks with like-minded people.

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My primary thanks are addressed to the agarwood shareholders and my friends in Asia (producers, perfumers, traders, museums, associations, organisations, consumers, etc.). I would also like to thank Prof. Dr. Lothar Ledderose for making this research possible, and Prof. Dr. Dame Jessica Rawson for her feedback. Special thanks are due to Naoko Fujita, Jiani Gao, Mu Gan, Stephanie-Akiko Haschke, and Li Ma for their translational assistance over the years. – For reasons of anonymity and impartialness towards businesses, all individual names are omitted. – The responsibility for all mistakes and insufficiencies is completely mine.

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Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
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