Stepping onto the caraway-coloured streets baked with thousands of years of sun, the medieval city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan transports you to a truly different world; one where camels strutted by whilst old merchants sold their wares at bustling markets among desert citadels and mosaic-adorned madrassas. Meet the most famous stopping point on the Silk route: the inspiration for Gallivant’s newest fragrance, here in Scented Silk.
Travel images Sadie Andrew
The City of Merchants, Bukhara was a popular resting point on the Silk Road, an old trading route spanning from Xian China to Istanbul and thus connecting East to West. Textiles like fleece, silk, cotton, leather and gold all met here, and some of these are still being traded today; indeed this oasis has not changed much in 2000 years.
Fruits, spices, tea, jewelled rings, and necklaces all compete for space in the bustling bazaars alongside fine Persian rugs and other souvenirs, whilst the blue domes of this holy city sparkle in the white light, reminding us of Bukhara’s unique history, not just as a trading point, but as a centre of learning, theology and culture.
After walking part of the Silk Road from further East with desolate scree-slopes, turquoise lakes, wide-open valleys, and lush farmland, arriving into Bukhara juxtaposed this in every way. Every sense is alerted as you wander through the winding alleys and into the caverned food markets where bowls of nuts, fruits and warm spices lay out as far as the eye can see. Smelling cumin, corriander, and saffron mixed with the fresh fruits and hearing the traders call you at every turn, this assault on the senses soon melds into something warm and exotic and you feel just as intrepid as those explorers before you.
Journeying outside the market you can see the spell-binding architecture of the old Islamic schools, embellished with tiles in shades of azure, lapis lazuli and indigo, with gold oozing intricately in between. Important structures in this city are decorated blue because it is considered a holy colour, symbolising water and sky as the principle sources of life, and you can’t help but feel full of it when travelling this magical city. It takes you back to the roots of life in such a wholesome sense as it feels as though you have travelled back in time.
Smelling Gallivant’s new perfume, Bukhara, instantly takes you along this journey and inspires you to wander among the minarets and mosaics of this extraordinary city.
A woody, spicy and earthy perfume, composed around the enigmatic orris, which brings a gentle ‘wash’ to the scent.
The most explosive part of this new scent is the inclusion of caraway at the top. Used for its health benefits, (it aids digestion as well as having amazing aniseed come cumin taste) it is naturally grown in the wild from France to Eastern Europe. The Ancient Egyptians used it in religious rituals and Jewish communities use it in special bread.
It smells is a little like musky cumin, with a fruity facet and it gives off heat, unsurprisingly as it is a spice, but the heat from it is soft like a warm summer breeze, not the direct heat of a blazing sun.
Caraway is a distinctive unusual facet as an opener for a fragrance but here in Bukhara, it melds subtlety with the bergamot, pear, and coriander. The fragrance comes together with fresh herbs, warm with spice, with a hit of brightness via the bergamot, and lush with juicy pear (you can almost taste the juice). It is a wonderfully enigmatic start to a fragrance. The moment it hits the skin it boldly draws you in; it’s not shy but it’s not bossy either, never showy with it but it does have an addictive quality.
Unmissable in its heart is the wonderous ingredient orris: its dark, slightly rooty yet soft powder feature makes it almost dreamy. It sits with her majesty Jasmine, like perfect bedfellows like the softest cloth you could lie down on and dream…. but again a touch of spice and fruit joins up the ‘thinking’ and you’ll find clove and apricot here too.
The base finds the depth of resin via benzoin, the sensuous spice of saffron, warmth from amber, and woods with the wrap of cotton-soft musk to keep you snuggly on the open roads at night when the heat drops on a cooling desert earth.
The dry down is a wonderous softness with every facet coming through but it a gentle warming way that sits on the skin as though the spices are coming through it rather than having been laid on top.
If ever a perfume summed up the scent of history, of scorched earth and markets piled high with spice, the trail of silk fabrics drying in the heat, then wrapped in cool earth after the sun has gone, then this is it.
When we can’t travel in these trying times, go via your own nose on the Silk Road and envision a journey well-trodden, seeped in history and trades of a bygone era, but one that still stands as bright as it ever did.