The skills related to perfume in Pays de Grasse: the cultivation of perfume plants, the knowledge and processing of natural raw materials, and the art of perfume composition


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Inscribed in 2018 (13.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Z.Ali - N.Bédar APVPG/CAPG 2015

The skills related to perfume in Pays de Grasse cover three different aspects: the cultivation of perfume plants; the knowledge and processing of natural raw materials; and the art of perfume composition. The practice involves a wide range of communities and groups, brought together under the Association du Patrimoine Vivant du Pays de Grasse (Living Heritage Association of the Region of Grasse). Since at least the sixteenth century, the practices of growing and processing perfume plants and creating fragrant blends have been developed in Pays de Grasse, in a craft industry long dominated by leather tanning. Perfume plant cultivation involves a wide range of skills and knowledge, for instance pertaining to nature, soil, weather, biology, plant physiology and horticultural practices, as well as specific techniques such as extraction and hydraulic distillation methods. The inhabitants of Grasse have made these techniques their own and helped improve them. In addition to technical skills, however, the art also calls for imagination, memory and creativity. Perfume forges social bonds and provides an important source of seasonal labour. Related knowledge is mostly transmitted informally through a long learning process that still takes place primarily in perfumeries. In recent decades, however, there has been a growing interest in standardizing learning through formalized teaching.