Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rose Neriko

Neriko is a traditional Japanese incense dating back to the 7th century, when women of aristocracy blended their signature scent to imprint their impressions on men. Back then men and women in court lived completely separated. The Story of Genji mentions incenses and their impression on Hikari Genji numerous times.

I started off by making a more traditional blend of sandalwood, jinko, resins, and kaiko or cuddy shells, cloves and camphor. The neriko was nice enough, but there was nothing special about it. I remembered the pieces of jinko that  Ross Urrere had given me that he had soaked in rose absolutes. They smelled heavenly!

So, I thought to modernize and Westernize the neriko by adding rose. I started by just adding some rose absolute, but then I got this brilliant idea to add rose petals and rose concrete. I pounded the rose petals by hand into powder, then added the wood powders, spices, camphor, etc. After it was moistened, I added the rose absolute and the rose concrete, and pounded the mixture the prescribed 1000 times and then rolled the paste into small balls.

From top left clockwise: kunroku resin, jinko, camphor, rose petals, sandalwood
I love making neriko. It's very tactic and satisfying. It's also kind of mindless once you get over the measuring part. It takes a while to make, but I can watch TV while I do it. And the result is almost always satisfying. (I did make a few stinkers along the way; a necessary evil, I think.)

The rose neriko smells like a fresh, raw, dewy rose to me. It's not the refined, French, perfumy rose. Nerikos are not to be burned, but heated. It lasts for over one hour heated in an aroma pot. It's smokeless, which is a fact I like very much.

Neriko is used in tea ceremonies, too, in the winter. In the summer, jinko and sandalwood are burned. (Or more precisely, heated.) I will write about some traditional neriko I have in the near future.

Rose Neriko can be found on Etsy!