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India's perfume capital threatened by scent of modernity

Published on Sep 18, 2012 2:00 PM
 

KANNAUJ, India (AFP) - In the remote town of Kannauj, the perfume capital of India, traditional workers are struggling to keep their craft alive in the face of fierce competition from modern fragrance makers.

This fight, between small businesses such as the Pragati Aroma Oil distillery and global groups such as Armani and Chanel, mirrors thousands of other battles across India between ancient practices and the forces of modernity.

Mr Laxmi Narayan, 72, has spent the last 30 years making what is known as attar, an oil-based perfume manufactured using a method dating back thousands of years.

"Attar-making is a painstaking craft," Mr Narayan told AFP through a cloud of thick smoke that billowed from wood fires set below a row of simmering copper pots that he was constantly monitoring.

 
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