Pistacia Lentiscus, or the Mastic Tree
Throughout the Mediterranean there are trees that weep crystal tears of sweet resin, the smell of which once blanketed a Greek island in a unique, piney, powdery scent that stopped a sultan dead in his tracks. This tree is called Pistacia Lentiscus, and its resin and foliage are coveted for medicinal, religious, and scent-based intentions. Also known as Mastic, this plant has a rich and diverse history that has seen empires rise and fall, precious to Mediterranean heritage and ecology. Located within the trees native Chios there is a cooperative of medieval villages that produce the heaven-scent Mastic resin, united under the Chios Gum Mastic Growers
Association. A beautiful metaphor of how humanity bands together to protect and utilise local natural resources, an emblem of community and exchange.
The mastic resin has been documented well before Biblical times, with Hippocrates using the tears to avoid digestive issues and even as a breath freshener. King David would also be alerted to invaders by the sounds that would occur when the tree’s branches would be walked upon and snapped. Throughout the world, and throughout history from Ancient Greek civilisation, mastic was prized for its cosmetic purposes as well as its culinary uses, releasing a fresh and cedar-like taste into various baked goods and sweets. Although mastic is elusive in perfumes, it brings an edge of mimosa and green floral fragrances. The scent can bring to mind a blend of cinnamon, fresh pine, cedar, floral, and citrus notes. The unique smell corresponds to the uniqueness of the tree itself. Despite its hardy and resilient qualities, it can only be grown in certain areas of the Mediterranean.
The sultan of an army invading the island centuries ago declared to protect these trees and the communities that coexist with them. Do these trees weep in solidarity for our human nature? They live far longer than us humans, and harbour ancient knowledge regarding our patterns and behaviours. The same trees that provided mastic gum for the Sultans mistresses are not far removed from the trees that are currently producing resin for gum, drinks, and importantly for us, perfume. For those of us who are lucky to have experienced the fresh sea breeze of the Mediterranean atmosphere, the scent of Mastic envelops us in a gentle caress, transporting us to a space of relaxation and bliss. Encouraging us, through olfactory sensuality, to breathe deeply and feel our lungs expand as we take in the world in all its ethereal, life giving beauty.
We adore the unconventional, almost as much as we adore sustainability and honouring the history of the ecologies we utilise for our scents. Mastic oil has known benefits for clearing up problem skin, so dabbing a small amount on the body is beneficial for skin problems as well as aroma. Here, we marry science and scent to push the boundaries of sensuality with nuance and respect. Perfume has long drawn from scientific health benefits of the plant matter used in medicine as nature is multifaceted, something that has been celebrated since the dawn of
civilization. The mastic tree has been a symbol of peace, unity, and cultural exchange; and can be used as a larger metaphor for the world.
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