Ancient Egyptians believed sycamore trees grew on the border between the land of the living and the realm of the dead. Greek myths tell of humans transformed into trees. In Japan, pine trees represent longevity (even immortality) but cherry trees’ fleeting blossoms are a reminder that life is brief. Where I live, several Northwest Coast Indian tribes carve clan histories into revered cedar wood, creating large totem poles and house posts. I’ve always loved the story of Siddhartha Gautama reaching enlightenment (and becoming the Buddha) while meditating in the shade of the Bodhi Tree at Bodh Gaya in India.
Trees are interesting as cultural and religious symbols, but they’re also beautiful plants whose bark, wood, roots, resins, leaves and fruit make perfumes smell “divine.” Infusion Organique Buddha’s Fig Eau de Parfum was inspired by a particular Bodhi tree — the ancient Sri Maha Bodhi located in Sri Lanka.
Buddha’s Fig contains certified organic fig extract, rose geranium, lemongrass oil, hyacinth, iris, wood, and amber. Buddha’s Fig begins with notes of fig leaf and “green”/barely opened hyacinth flowers; I believe the lemongrass oil adds an earthy touch to the fig “fruit” note that emerges in mid-development. Many perfumers accent the sweet nature of fig fruit by adding sheer musk and “milky-sugar” notes to fig fragrances. I like that type of fig scent, but I also appreciate a hint of piquancy in fig perfumes. There’s a pleasing “undercurrent” of rawness in the Buddha’s Fig base notes that reminds me of the flavor/scent of a freshly unearthed potato (imagine rinsing off the cool tuber in icy water and then taking a bite). Thankfully, the amber-wood notes in Buddha’s Fig are not heavy and do not in any way dampen the lively nature of the fragrance. Buddha’s Fig is a perfect warm-weather scent; it’s refreshing and has light sillage, but it also has good lasting power.
Since smelling Buddha’s Fig, my favorite fig perfume duo (Diptyque Philosykos and Hermès Un Jardin en Méditerranée) has become a trio. I admit I didn’t expect to be inspired, let alone enlightened, by an organic $35 perfume, but as Buddha knew, something does not have to be costly to be precious.
Infusion Organique Buddha’s Fig 50 ml Eau de Parfum spray is $35; the scent is also available in home fragrance (reed diffusers, $56-90; candle, $38) and body products (body lotion, $20; body hand wash, $18). For buying information see the listing for Infusion Organique under Perfume Houses.