Your Guide To Turkey

Kolonya (Turkish Eau de cologne)

Eau de cologne, a refreshing perfumed toilet water which was to become the world's most famous cosmetic item of all time, was originally used for medicinal purposes. Made from a formula which included essences of rosemary, orange flower, bergamot and lemon, drops of cologne were taken on sugar or in wine for disorders of the digestive system. In addition, due to its antiseptic properties, it was used as a mouth wash, for cleansing wounds, and for massage as relief for muscle and joint pains. The 18th century, a time of radical changes in many areas, saw the rise of the bourgeoisie, who disdaining the heavy and expensive perfumes associated with the aristocracy took up eau de cologne. Its light and refreshing scent became a symbol of simplicity and purity. Although the German name for this substance is Kolnisch wasser, it is known worldwide by the French name eau de cologne, after which the Turkish name kolonya is derived.
The question of who invented eau de cologne is disputed, but there are two main contestants for the honour. One of these traces it back to the aqua reginae produced since the 14th century by the nuns of the Santa Maria Monastery in Florence. In the 17th century Giovanni Paolo Feminis visited Florence, realised the commercial potential of the liquid, and persuaded the reverend mother to disclose the formula, explaining that he was a pharmacist from Cologne. He first called it Eau Admirable, but later changed the name to Eau de Cologne. Demand for the product rose, and Feminis asked his nephew Gian Maria Farina to come from Italy and assist him. Farina eventually took over the business. Eau de cologne became so popular that numerous competitors claiming to be its inventor went into production, and by the 1860s there were nearly forty shops with the name Farina in Cologne.
The second theory asserts that it was a wedding gift which changed the course of the history of perfume. In 1792 a priest who was among the guests at the wedding of Wilhelm Muelhens, the son of a Cologne banker, presented the young couple with an old manuscript. In this manuscript was the formula for a medical preparation called Aqua Mirabilis. Muelhens began to produce this in a laboratory at his house. When Napoleon occupied Cologne, he ordered his soldiers to give numbers to every house in the city, and Muelhens' house became number 4711. In time the perfume produced by Muelhens came to be known by this number.

Perfumes based on alcohol first appeared in Ottoman Turkey during the early years of the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II (1876-1909). Among the products that were imported at this time was Farina's Eau de Cologne. But soon local versions of the product were being made.

In 1882 Ahmet Faruki set up the first Ottoman perfume factory, and among other preparations became the first producer of cologne, which he marketed as kolonya. Cologne was both cheap and easy to produce, and its use quickly spread. There was already a long-standing tradition in Turkey of sprinkling rose water on the hands of guests following the initial exchange of pleasantries, and cologne as a more refreshing alternative soon took the place of rose water in the etiquette of Turkish social life.

The tradition of offering cologne to guests is still alive and well in Turkey today. You are likely to be offered cologne not only in homes, but on intercity buses, whose passengers are looked upon as guests. When visiting someone who is ill or buying souvenirs for friends during a visit to another part of the country, a bottle of cologne is one of the most acceptable gifts. Cologne is probably produced in more variety in Turkey than in its homeland.

Almost every part of the country has its own distinctive variety. Izmir is renowned for its Golden Drop, Secret Flower and Izmir Nights colognes, Antalya for its bitter orange flower cologne, Rize for its tea cologne, Duzce for walnut leaf and tobacco leaf colognes, Trabzon for hazelnut and anchovy cologne, Amasya for apple cologne, Isparta for rose cologne, Edremit and Ayvalyk for olive blossom cologne, Syndyrgy for pine cologne, Balykesir for white lily cologne, and so on. Whether the common lemon cologne or these more exotically scented varieties, cologne has played a part in the polite formalities of Turkish social life, refreshing guests, travellers and the sick, for more than a century.

Resource: Skylife

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