Post by Azar
Several years ago both Brad and I collected all kinds of antiques. We were such crazy collectors that at one point our home began to take on the aspect of a museum. When we moved from that very old house (by American standards an antique in it’s own right) into a larger, more “modern” 1960s home, we gave away or sold many of our old “treasures”. In our new house we resolved to maintain a clean, spare look and try not to become burdened by our stuff. Well, as you probably have guessed, that resolution didn’t last. These days we don’t feel quite so driven to possess used things but we still like the look and feel of something old. I believe that I can sense another person’s way of life or spirit in a vintage piece, not unlike the experience of using someone else’s pen or pencil. For example, when I play a friend’s musical instrument I find it has taken on certain aspects of the musicality of the person who regularly uses it. This phenomenon may be the result of an actual physical change in the instrument’s materials brought on by years of exposure to the player’s individual style.
The Mini Museum & Esscentual Alchemy
Unguent, Unguentarium & U Tour
That being said, toward the end of the summer we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of an unguentarium and two other ancient miniature glass pieces from the Mini Museum’s Unguent, Unguentarium and U Tour. It was a weird experience when we finally opened the boxes. The unguentarium, a very small (just over 4cm high) mouth blown glass bottle, encrusted with sediment, was from the early Roman period, circa the 1st century A.D. It was carefully packaged in sand to give the impression of an archeological dig. An unguentarium (from the Latin unguentarius, a perfumer or dealer in unguents) is a small vessel designed to hold liquid, solid or semi-solid perfumes, cosmetics, perfumed oils, etc. These little bottles can still be found in ancient Greek and Roman sites, especially in tombs.
My favorite of the three artifacts was a longer (7.30 cm), narrower and seemingly more delicate bottle, also of mouth blown glass dating from roughly the same period. This lovely little piece was called a lachrymatory – a vessel for tears or a tear catcher – also used to hold perfumes, fragrant oils and unguents. It is believed that the ancients used these bottles to gather their tears, burying them with their deceased loved ones.
The third artifact was a tiny blown glass mold form probably created around 50. A.D. in Phoenicia (modern Lebanon).
In addition to the three ancient minis there were two modern perfume samples, created by perfumer Amanda Feeley of Essential Alchemy specifically for this Mini Museum traveling unguentraium project. Here is a brief description of these fragrances from the museum’s fact sheets:
” ‘Helena’ is the chosen name for both the ancient vessel…and the commissioned re-creation of [an] ancient Roman unguent by perfumer, Amanda Feeley. In her meditation with the vial, Amanda ‘felt an image of a woman in a garden on a warm, spring day’…The end result was her ‘Helena’ – the reconstructed, oil-based fragrance of 30% parfum concentration and ‘Helena MMXIV’ – the brighter, alcohol-based eau de parfum…”
For more information about these beautiful fragrances check Amanda Feeley’s website. I understand there will be another Unguentarium Tour next year. If you are interested in the project contact Allen at the Miniature Perfume Shoppe/Mini Museum