Damascus Rose, Turkish Rose or Taif is a delicate pink flower, that has been cultivated since the Ottoman era.
The oil extracted from the rose is called attar and was once extracted only in Makkah, Jiddah and Taif, in Saudi Arabia.
Today, the biggest exporters of Damuscus Rose oil are Russia, China, India, Iran and my two beloved countries, Morocco and Turkey.
But 200 years ago, Taif rose petals were collected and transported in sacks by camels for about 65km down the hills to the holy city of Makkah. There, artisans distilled attar from them, infusing rosa distillate into sandalwood, making a floral-woody blend.
While an attar can endure for years, the rose in nature has a very ephemeral life. Their flowering lasts only the month of April, and harvesting begins at dawn till 7:00 a.m. The pink cupped blooms unfold until down and as the sun moves higher in the sky the oil evaporates.
Taif Rose petals in Saudi Arabia
Part of the petals are distelled to produce rose oil, part of them produce rose water and rose syrup, very commom in middle eastern dishes and pastries, such as the Turkish loukoumia, or Ataif (pastry served during the Hamaddan).
Throughout the Middle Eastern world Damascus Rose has always been regarded as the most perfect of all flowers. In various stylized forms, it is one of the principal elements in Muslim and Christian decoration and design - the emblem of perfection and faithfulness.
And the most perfect flower was the inspiration to Ta'If, designed by Linda Pilkington, the nose behind Ormonde Jayne perfums.
Ta'If is according to the brand "an intoxicating and audacious rose, a sophisticated and dynamic fragrance" with top notes of Orange flower absolute, Saffron, White peach, Pink pepper and Dates; middle notes of Rose oil, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley; and base notes of Tonka bean, musk and Vanilla absolute.
Ta'If - Ormonde Jayne
It is a stunning and unique fragrance. So feminine, so delicate and yet with a strong presence.
The first hit is spicy, with a citrusy wrap. Saffron notes are very intense on my skin, followed by sweet notes of dates. I closed my eyes and I let my imagination fly away. The fragrance took me to a spice store in the Israeli town called Akko. Right in the heart of the shuk there is a very tiny shop selling a thousand different spices. The opening of Ta'If smells like some of the spices sold in that place. If I could describe the vision, it would be probably the dryness of the soil, an arid sensation. A wind coming from the desert. Dry desert soil and spices from Akko is the right description of this combination.
A sub-note duo emerges: a gentle sweet-green-ish whiff, very subtle, very ephemeral rises under layers of dusty notes, and than it gets a sparkling moment with the pink peppery note.
20 minutes later it comes the special treat: fruity notes come to along. Like strokes in a dusty canvas, the fragrant notes remind me of Kamar el deen - flat sheets of dried apricot paste, made with pressed apricots and olive oil. Vibrant orange, glossy and very acid.
Kamar el deen sheets served with lemon juice
These beautiful acid-sweet notes stays quite a long time. I feel happy and amazed.
It was like capturing a piece of the Middle East and spreading it on the wrist! (I imagined the delicate and rather complicate moves of the hands of a belly dancer).
At first, the flowery notes are quite shy on my skin, I wish they would explode and bloom. But they didn't.The rose oil in Ta'If seemed frozen. It gave me a cold creamy rosy sensation.
So I thought this is one more fragrance that doesn't fully explode on my skin. Rose water rather than rose oil.
Little did I know...
Somehow 3 hours later it became vivid on my skin. Fantastic. Just when I thought it would start fading away...
(I find also this phenomenon in my favorite perfume: Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel. After hours wearing the perfume, it becomes very vibrant before starts to dry down).
The rose was there, fully blossoming emerging from the dusty spicy acid apricot soil!
Rose growing from desert soil
As the roses give place to the final accord slightly powdery and mellow, the perfume feels like a silk balm on the skin.
I tried it in a hot summer day, and although I think it lasts for a long time, I would prefer to try this fragrance again in a cold weather.
(Click on the name to listen to the real modern Turkish Spirit)
Ta'If goes very well with BabaZula and incredible belly dancers, like the Israeli dancer Keren.
For beginners in Turkish Culture, BabaZula was born in Istanbul and mixes darbuka with eletric saz, spoons and eletronic modern sounds creating what they call "Oriental Dub" music, bringing pre-islamic and shamanic times to rock n' roll.
Ta'If is a BabaZula fragrance.
It brings the spirit of the modern Middle East: A bit Turkish, a bit Arabic, a bit islamic with an Israeli touch.
Keren - a flower in the desert
Click here to get to know Ormonde Jayne Ta'If