At KLEIO, our goal is to not only recreate aromas of the past but also to share the fascinating history behind each candle.
When you read the mood-setting narrative for Kannauj, you can practically smell the petrichor rising off the screen. The Kannauj candle recreates the aromas of India's perfume capital in 1902.
Kannauj lies four hours east of the Taj Mahal, the exquisite white-marbled monument built in 1631 CE by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Empress Mumtaz Mahal.
Kannauj was the place, both in Emperor Shah Jahan's time and now, to obtain fine fragrant oils, known as attars—fragrant oils like rose waters, jasmine oils, vetiver, and sandalwood, all aromas that could romance even the most discriminating nose. It is not clear when exactly attar-making began in Kannauj. Archaeologists have discovered clay distillation pots, the process by which attars are made, dating back thousands of years.
Today, Kannauj is a hub of a historic perfumery in India. Most of the villagers in the old city are connected to fragrance in one form or another. And with the acquired skills and expertise in perfumery, Kannauj has mastered another elusive skill: catching and bottling the smell of rain.
Called “petrichor,” a blend of the Greek words petra, meaning "rock", and ikhor, meaning the "blood of the gods" in Greek mythology, the intoxicating aroma is arguably the signature fragrance produced in Kannauj. Extracted from parched clay and distilled with ancient techniques, it is known as mitti attar—or Earth’s perfume.
Kannauj is considered the perfume capital of India. Steeped in rich history, Kannauj has produced fragrance oils, known as attars, for millennia. It is distinctively known for producing and bottling petrichor, or mitti attar, the distinct scent of rain.
Imagine walking through the streets of Kannauj on a warm summer evening. The mix fragrant oils, rain water, soil, and dry air all mingle to form an intoxicating blend resulting in the city's distinctive scent.
In creating Kannauj, we extensively researched the sights and smells of Kannuaj in 1902, decades before modernity and globalization officially took hold of the perfume industry.
The process by which fragrant oils are produced is called deg-bhapka. When a fresh supply of flowers comes in, the maker put pounds of roses, jasmine, or other petals into each deg and seals it with mud. They then light a fire underneath and fill the receiver with sandalwood oil—which serves as a base for the scents. The deg and bhapka are connected with a hollow bamboo pipe that carries the fragrant vapors from the simmering pot into their sandalwood oil base.
Petrichor, the Kannauj candle's signature fragrance note, is the unique, earthy smell associated with rain. It is caused by water mixing with certain compounds like ozone, geosmin, and plant oils. During dry weather, plants produce compounds that accumulate in between rocks and in soil. When it rains, these compounds are released into the air to add to the earthy smell of petrichor.
The process of creating petrichor in Kannauj takes approximately three weeks. Clay is extracted from topsoil and baked in a kiln, then immersed in water within a deg, which are then sealed with mud. Using a process called hydro-distillation, a fire is lit underneath a cauldron; the vapor then travels through bamboo pipes to condense in receivers, over a base of oil, to form the petrichor.
KLEIO's Kannauj candle features fragrances notes of Kannauj petrichor (sourced from Kannauj, India), white jasmine, Indian rose, poet's jasmine, and sandalwood.
Copper degs in Kannauj