Monday, September 12, 2016

Berdoues Collection Cologne Grand Cru, Part Two: Arz El-Rab

Initially Berdoues Arz El-Rab did not excite my interest as much as the Assam of India reviewed here yesterday. The bottle, illustrated with the look of tree bark, was not nearly as appealing as cute baby elephants! And where or what exactly was Arz El-Rab? When I was on the Berdoues website page for Assam of India it had recommendations, one of those "if you like this than you'll probably like these too," and with what turned out to be great prescience it was suggested I might like Arz El-Rab and Oud Al Sahraa. How right they were.

But first, where or what is Arz El-Rab? Turns out it stands for Cedars of God, one of the last remaining stands of ancient cedars in Lebanon. So revered is the cedar tree as a historic symbol of Lebanon, it is featured prominently on the country's flag. Mount Lebanon once was covered with forests of  the grand trees but the deforestation started far back in ancient times.  There are numerous references to the cedar tree in the Bible: "The trees of the Lord are full of sap, the cedars of Lebanon, which he has planted." Psalm 104:16 NKJV. Cedar was highly valued for its fragrance and durability and numerous uses were made from its harvest, such as shipbuilding  and supplying roofs or doors for ancient temples. The resin from the tree is also highly prized for its scent, and also served the purpose of repelling insects or worms, which contributed to the wood's great strength.

Cedar was considered by many ancient religions to be the first tree of creation and thus specially endowed with healing properties. Its branches have been burned in healing or holy rituals for many hundreds of years. Some ancient civilizations believe the tall trees reached to the heavens absorbing cosmic energy which carried through the strong straight trunk into the ground, imbibing the whole area with a healing spiritual aura. What I do know is being in the presence of nature offers a renewing energy, and I guess ancient trees would symbolize the epitome of this concept.

Berdous Arz El-Rab perfumer Cyrill Roland describes the cologne: "It conjures up the sensation felt when you cross a cedar forest in Lebanon for the first time. It is a unique, almost magic sensory experience." Arz El-Rab is classified as a Woody Spicy scent and features notes of cedarwood, moroccan iris, and ginger.  Note that the cedarwood is Virginian, as the actual cedars of Lebanon are endangered and protected. The cedar is the centerpiece of the cologne and the other notes dance around it. The ginger gives a fresh, spicy, almost citrus zing to the opening of the cologne. On my skin the iris is fairly quiet, adding a dry austere elegance. The ginger continues to give a glow of energy to the more static cedar note. The scent imparts a grounded, comforting feeling, for me anyway. Perhaps this is the energy the perfumer was looking to provide with the inspiration of the Cedars of God.

I like Arz El-Rab very much. My only disappointment was the longevity was not as strong on my skin as it had been with Assam of India. However, the next morning there was still a very faint discernible trace.

For other reviews of the Berdous Grand Crus see Part One. Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.

Top photo from Cedar Photo from Sample purchased by me.

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