Agarwood, known as Tram Huong in Vietnamese, can be found on certain species of large evergreen trees indigenous to Southeast Asia, and forms when the tree comes under fungal or bacterial attack. As a survival instinct, the tree secretes a special resin into the wound to suppress the fungus or bacteria. This is known as Agarwood and the oil distilled from the resin is used for incense, perfumes and medicine.
India was a major source of Agarwood until the middle of the 20th century and the essential oil had huge cultural and religious significance, being an important part of Hindu ceremonies. It became scarce in India but can still be found elsewhere in Asia including Central Vietnam.
Agarwood is found naturally in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa province as the genus of the trees (Aquilaria) that produces Agarwood is found nowhere else in Vietnam. Agarwood is very expensive indeed because the Aquilaria trees that produce high quality Agarwood are endangered and are protected.
A thousand years ago Agarwood was a very precious medicine, and many ancient remedies included this indispensable resin. Across the centuries, the Chinese have worn bracelets of round Agarwood beads on their wrists which press down on pressure points to improve their health, balancing the Yin and Yang. Small items were also worn to scare away evil and bring vitality, good health and good fortune to the wearer and their family.
Vietnamese people have used Agarwood since antiquity, in particular the nobility of the Nguyen Dynasty, who would use it as perfume and pay large amounts of money to anoint themselves, or to use a few drops of the oil in their bath. It even appears on the nine large bronze urns outside the The Mieu Temple in the Royal Palace at Hue. The heady incense of Agarwood was regularly used to perfume the silk clothing of the aristocracy prior to rituals.
Agarwood is still in use nowadays, and the incense is often burned to celebrate the full moon, a new moon and, in particular, the Lunar New Year. It is occasionally used in the workplace, to bring calmness and confidence for important meetings, or in places where students are sitting exams.
Because of the expense in purchasing natural Agarwood, people have tried to create it artificially but the results are of a very poor quality substitute. The importance of ensuring the preservation of the Aquilaria trees is paramount so that the production of the culturally and spiritually important Agarwood may long continue.
We hope you take away lovely memories of the Agarwood fragrance when you sail with Emperor Cruises and will always associate the fragrance with memorable experiences on board. For more info, visit www.emperorcruises.com