The land of Oman speaks to us in a language of perfume punctuated by immensity and timelessness.
It is the land of incense, where for centuries humans and trees, in particular the species of Boswellia sacra, have coexisted in a subliminal way!
Since its discovery, the frankincense is related to the human need to have a formal link with their gods. It is incredible to imagine that a long time ago, it was one of the most valuable products of the ancient world.
In the extreme south of the Sultanate of Oman, Boswellia sacra will secrete the best of frankincense, a resin whose trade dates back to the dawn of time. Many experts agree that the best incense is produced by species originating from the Sultanate of Oman 1a.
Its medicinal properties and aroma, used by the world’s greatest perfumers, make it a rare and symbolic substance of importance.
The genre takes its name from Professor John Boswell (Miller and Morris, 1988). It is a tree native to Somalia, southern Yemen (in the Hadra’mout valley) and Oman (in the Dhofar region). Miller and Morris (Kapoor, 1990) stated that the only species of Boswellia present in the Arabian Peninsula is Boswellia carterii.
This species was named after the English surgeon HG Carter who was the first to discover it during his expedition to southern Arabia in 1846.
In 1876, the Swiss chemist and botanist Flüeckiger re-examined the same plant. As a new species he called it Boswellia sacra.
Three years later, the English botanist Birdwood examined the whole genus and found that the specimens described previously by Carter and Flüeckiger are identical to those found in Somalia and known as Boswellia carterii so that the two species should be considered synonymous (Miller and Morris, 1988).
With the evolution of language,
This term is now imprecise. It refers to any composition that can be burned to perfume a religious place or house, clothing or body parts. This language refers to a variety of products :
Resins of vegetable origin (frankincense, olibanum, myrrh, etc.),
Fragrant wood (agalloche, sandalwood, etc.), spices...
Despite the many interpretations,
concerning the origin of the term incense, the etymology most commonly recognized is that of « incendere », a Latin term meaning « to burn » or « to consume ».
Apart from this denomination, we find the word frankincense, English word derived from the old French (high quality incense) (« franc », « real incense »), to distinguish it from many fragrant mixtures claimed as Frankincense and, Oliban, from Arabic al-lubán (« milk » refers to the resin of the tree)..
To summarize, the word incense generally means a single element or a mixture of natural or non-organic fragrant substances whereas frankincense or Oliban means the real and natural incense which is an aromatic resin derived from trees of the Burseraceae family.
Burseraceae are a family of trees or shrubs (645 species) characterized by flaking aromatic bark and by resin present in plant tissues. The resin of many species of this family is used as Frankincense (natural).
There are two important varieties in the family Burseraceae : Boswellia (its resin is called Frankincense) and Commiphora (its resin is myrrh)
The cultivation of frankincense is a know-how that has been handed down from generation to generation for decades and which we inherit proudly. Harvesting is done by a shallow incision in the bark of the male tree by removing a narrow band. A sap flows out and coagulates on contact with the air, then it is picked up by hand. A succession of 3 passes, spaced from 10 to 15 days apart, is made on the incisions. The third pass gives the best resin.
At the place of harvest, after the resin has been collected and collected in bags, the producers store it in an excavation, a cave or some sort of camp, to accumulate it for a certain time. Finally, after collecting sufficient quantities, it is sent to the village or town, where it is classified.
Every five to six years, the trees are left as they are for a few years to obtain a better quality resin.
Harvesting is carried out according to geographic areas. The harvest, on the trees located on the coastal plain or during the monsoon, is done from the end of March to June, approximately. For those located behind the Dhofar mountain (desert area), the resin is picked from April to September. This second harvest is called "white incense", as opposed to "brown incense", harvested only on the coastal plain after winter incisions.. A tree can produce about 3 to 4 kg per season. According to studies, 2 the incisions - which must be spaced apart by about thirty centimeters - are made on the east and west sides of the tree to allow sufficient exposure to the sun for rapid drying of the resin.
A unique tool with a wooden handle and an iron spatula at its end, used by the incense producer Dhofari (Bedouin), to « peel » the bark. Sometimes the tool may be provided with a spatula at each of its ends.
As soon as an incision is made, the sap begins to surface. The optimal size of the tapping must not exceed 12 cm². The plant or tree that produces juices or resins is explained by the fact that it serves as a defense mechanism to isolate its wounds. It protects against desiccation, against attacks of insects and fungi, as well as rot.