After a long 6 months of setbacks, this shipment from our co-op in the Somali Puntland has finally cleared customs and is physically in the shop! Woohoo!!!
Fresh, fragrant and fair trade. What more could one ask for?
Both Commiphora Guidotti, known as “Hadi””, and Commiphora Erythrea, known in Somalia as “Hagar”, are sold as Opoponax in the West. Though they are closely related trees their scent profile is quite different and each stands out as a unique resin with a signature scent of its own.
While Commiphora Guidottti lends an excellent fresh, vibrant top note to blends,, C. Erythrea has a deep, sensuous, nature that has no corners or sharp edges to it. it is darker in colour than its sister both visually and aromatically.
On the coal it draws one in to inhale it over and over again, finding new nuances that reveal themselves to the nose. It has a sweet Myrrh like heart wrapped in soft green notes. Devoid of Myrrh’s usual bitterness, Hagar reveals layers of herbs, honey, ancient souks and mosques. It delivers sweet woods draped with liquorice, notes of caramel and perfumed artemesia. This is an exotic and bewitching incense resin on different levels.
Even when spent on the coal and down to black burning gum, this resin surprisingly does not deliver the harsh charred odor that most types of Frankincense and Myrrh give us with their last gasps. Commiphora Erythrea is a joy till the very end and compels me to compulsively burn more and more of it.
After 2 years of work, this is our first shipment directly from Somalia to North America, bypassing a chain of middlemen who benefit at the expense of the harvesters. There is a nursery established to plant more trees in the wild and part of the profits from these sales find their way back to the harvester’s communities. This is a young venture, a novel approach to the traditional industry and I have high hopes for its growth and success.
I plan to distill the essential oil of this rare resin and anticipate a rich multilayered profile and a unique perfume ingredient.
So far, it seems that C. Erythrea is used in Somali culture as incense and to treat animals, especially afflictions of the skin. I am told it is not to be used internally.
Commiphora Erythrea is ruled Astrologically by the Moon as are its sisters C. Myrrha and C. Guidotti. While Myrrh has an affinity with the sign of Cancer, I have a feeling deep mysterious Pisces may have a resonance with this fragrant one.