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December 01, 2010

Anya’s Garden Temple : Perfume Review

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Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars--outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars--very good, 3 stars--adequate, 2 stars--disappointing, 1 star--poor.

Fragrance of the orange
Flowering at last in June
Wafts through the summer night
The memory of scented sleeves
Of someone long ago.
Kokinshu III:139 Anonymous , from collection of Japanese poetry compiled in the 10th century AD

Fragrances that can make one fall deep into a daydream are to be cherished, particularly because they are rare. Over the past week, I found myself dabbing Temple on my wrists and pushing aside my fragrance chemistry papers.  Instead I was reaching for anthologies of Japanese poetry and I knew that I had found my potion. Temple made me wonder if the scented sleeves of the poem were perfumed with kyara/agarwood incense; it made me remember a visit to the Mahalakshmi shrine in Mumbai where incense offered to the goddess was then distributed among the worshippers; it made me yearn for a perfume souk in Damascus where one can still find fine aged oud beside the knockoffs of Hugo Boss. All of this in a drop of perfume… If that is not special, I do not know what is.

Temple is an all-natural fragrance created by Anya McCoy of Anya’s Garden. The addictive citrusy juiciness of Temple’s top note belies its smoldering, voluptuous character, which becomes apparent almost immediately. The sonorous ambery-woody accord is marked by gourmand sweetness, which is balanced well against the dramatic richness of oud. In fact, the marvel of Temple on a purely technical level lies in its ability to weave quite a luminous tapestry out of particularly heavy, dense materials. The contrast between citrus and woods is delightful, while a touch of mitti attar distilled from baked Indian clay lends the composition a haunting, earthy facet.

Certainly Temple is not for everyone, since natural oud is a challenging note to carry off. Oud is also bewilderingly complex and dramatic and Temple, which relies on its richness, does not compromise its character. That is precisely the reason why I find Temple so compelling, especially when compared to many timid oud fragrances in the niche market. However, Temple is more than the sum of its parts, which are blended together well, thus creating an entirely new olfactive experience. Even minute quantities of the fragrance are enough to provide a reasonably good sillage. Like traditional attars and classical woody oriental fragrances, to which it pays a beautiful tribute, Temple stays close to the skin, thus creating an intimate veil of scent.

Temple includes notes of orange, borneol crystals, aglaia flower, cassia, Ayurvedic herbs and spices, Laotian and Vietnamese agarwood (oud), and earth tincture. It is available from Anya’s Garden.

Photo: Temple Offering, Goa, India © Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved.

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