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Scent of a woman and her time

By Zhao Xu | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-21 11:30
An exhibition at the Cernuschi Museum in Paris titled the Perfumes of China.[Photo/Shanghai Museum]

Spice was on top of that list, even before Tang. "During the Sui Dynasty (581-618), which directly preceded Tang, spice transported along the Silk Road was already arriving in China in huge quantities," Jiang says. "Such was the longing to be overwhelmed by the scent that large carts carrying the burning ashes of the spices were driven across the streets. The idea was to fill every corner and crevice with aroma."

The Sui Empire lasted for a mere 37 years, a lesson not to be missed.

"The early rulers of Tang indeed tried to cut the level of luxury they allowed to themselves and society in general." Jiang says. "But when immense social wealth soon started to accumulate, and when military triumphs pushed the borders of the empire outside, further strengthening safety on the Chinese section of the Silk Road, things started to take on a hedonistic aspect.

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