Thursday, 27 January 2011

Abdul Samad al Qurashi - Musk a Ajeeb Oil & Musk Aoud Oil

I acquired samples of these two musk oils from The Perfumed Court in summer last year. I wrote about Musk a Ajeeb Oil in a post here. At the time I tested this I wrote that I was perplexed by this musk, as it bore no resemblance to the Western musks we are more used to. More than six months on and I don't know if my feelings have changed. I think one thing is for sure - these musk oils definitely are easier to wear in cooler weather. In summer Ajeeb was a bit of a monster on me, pungent, forceful and dark. In winter it is marginally lighter, but by no means a wilting flower.

I still feel a bit confused when comparing Western musks to Middle-Eastern musks. I think in the West we are so used to lighter and cleaner laundry musks that when we encounter something more animalic and disturbing, it's a bit of a shock. At least, it was to me. I am a fan of more animalic musks like Serge Lutens' Muscs Koublai Khan, but even that one is tame compared to these by Abdul Samad al Qurashi. I felt it last year, and I still do now, which is that these musk oils smell earthy, fungal, pungent, cola-ish, resinous, or to be more blunt, complex. They just do. It's hard to explain, but they verge on repulsive, yet are still compelling enough to keep on smelling.

Musk Aoud Oil is a thick, almost waxy oil that is an opaque white colour. It looks a bit like vaseline. It is easier to wear than the Ajeeb, as the musk smells a bit lighter and more like the laundry musks we are familiar with, without actually being that tame. The oud is not forceful or medical, but rather lends a lightly spicy, resinous and woody feel to the composition. It is almost a skin scent really, but still very long-lasting. I really like it.

Musk a Ajeeb Oil looks frightening even in a vial. The oil is dark and treacly, and looks like what you would get if you reduced Coca Cola to a thick syrup. When applied on skin it is an orange colour, like the fat you get from minced meat cooked with tomatoes. The longevity of Ajeeb is staggering. On skin it does mellow and meld to an extent, but if you get this on fabric or anything else, you are set to have it stick around for a long time. To give you an example, I kept on smelling a weird musky smell in my car for a couple of months. Perplexed, I eventually opened the glove compartment to find a pair of sunglasses that I had misplaced. The smell was emanating from these and when I smelled them, I remembered that I had kept them in a bag with the musk oil at some point previously. Some of the oil had obviously rubbed onto the glasses and two months later the smell was still tenacious enough to scent my vehicle! So a word of warning there...

Ajeeb is by far the more complex of the two oils. It starts quite sweet and cola-ish, then progresses to a deep, resinous earthy-musky-dank accord that teeters between  repulsive and compulsive. There is something in there that almost catches in the back of my throat, yet for some strange reason it still draws me in. I want to describe this in more detail, but I'm struggling. There is something about Ajeeb that smells like decay and yet sexy-erotic at the same time. 

In summary, if you are looking to explore musks in more detail and would like to find something challenging, I would strongly urge you to try these. I know there are lots of other Middle-Eastern musk oils out there and it's a complex field, so I don't even know how good the quality is, but irrespective, I am still fascinated by both Ajeeb and Musk Aoud.

I'd be interested to hear if any of you have tried these or any other musks like this, and whether they confuse and fascinate you as much as these do me.


  1. These sound like my sort of thing.

    Unless I'm very much mistaken, the word ajeeb means strange or bizarre... which is probably a good name to choose, judging by your description.

  2. Thanks for dropping by Persolaise. If Ajeeb does mean strange or bizarre, then it is very fitting! If you're interested I'd be more than happy to send these over to you to try.



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