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Skills associated with traditional handicraft

Overview

Sandalwood

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Arabs have used sandalwood in many different ways since ancient times. Sandalwood is an elixir extracted from a tree that originates in eastern India. It is used in perfumes, carvings, and decorative items because of its aromatic properties. There are three main kinds of sandalwood: white sandalwood, citrine, and red sandalwood.
One of the most widespread traditional uses of sandalwood in Emirati societies is as a treatment for stomach ache, by mixing it with water and drinking it. It is also used as a treatment for headaches by being massaged into the head when needed. It is also used as a tonic for the liver. 

In an interview I held with Mrs Shamsa Rashid Al Shamsi, also known as Umm Saeed, she said: “Sandalwood had many uses, most prominently as a cosmetic for women before the advent of modern perfumes. It was used to make a mixture called al bida’a which is composed of ground sandalwood, al wars (a yellowish herb similar to turmeric), rose extract, and custard seed. This powdered blend was then sprinkled on the woman's hair to give it a fine aromatic scent. 

Emirati incense in the past was known for the simplicity of its components, which included agarwood, amber, rose oil, saffron water, white amber, and sandalwood. Sandalwood was, and continues to be, a major component in bukhour (incense) and it is an important aromatic material that Emirati woman use, either by itself or by mixing it in other traditional blends. 
 

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