Cornucopia, or “horn of plenty” – this is the Scent Semantics word of the month, and  Zoologist Camel is the matching fragrance I chose!

The first thing I thought when I heard the word was that I’ll have to think hard about a matching perfume, associating (at first) this word with gourmand perfumes – and you know that I’m very picky when gourmands are concerned. But then again, who says it has to be a gourmand, I thought. There are so many different things to choose from the horn of plenty!

As always, let’s start with the meaning of this word, and consult Merriam-Webster to clarify:

Definition of cornucopia

1a curved, hollow goat’s horn or similarly shaped receptacle (such as a horn-shaped basket) that is overflowing especially with fruit and vegetables (such as gourds, ears of corn, apples, and grapes) and that is used as a decorative motif emblematic of abundance called also horn of plenty.
2an inexhaustible storeABUNDANCE
3a receptacle shaped like a horn or a cone.
Abudantia by Rubens Illustrating Cornucopia
Abudantia With a Cornucopia, by Rubens

The word itself comes from Latin corn (horn) and copia (abundance), and my first thoughts about what would a symbol of Cornucopia be for me revolved around things that could be considered a symbol of abundance at the time: figs, dried or fresh, ripe black olives, grapes, apples, and honey. The abundance of scents and tastes, the ripeness of fruits, illuminated by the golden glow of nectar.

I’ve just returned from the cornucopia of Esxence 2022, still dazzled, still under the spell of the abundance of perfumes, meetings, time spent with friends, and reports to write. It took me days to unwind, and a couple of more to start thinking about how this word would smell to me.

I visualized Nymphs and Satyrs prancing around magical Arcadian forests (thanks to Hiram Green and his new Arcadia), holding horns of plenty filled with flowers and fruits, singing and dancing with joy (thank you, Rubens, for all the curves and abundance matching my imagination). I also smelled in my imagination very ripe and dark dates, myrrh, lush roses…and deep amber.

Then I dived into my samples vault, searching for the “right” fragrance for days. It took me literally days, I went through a hundered samples (and concluded that I do need to organize my famous samples vault as soon as possible, this has gone too far!), but the moment I saw it, I knew this perfume would be my chosen one:

Zoologist Camel (2017)

Zoologist Camel Scene
Camel, photo by Zoologist

If we go back in time, and to early definitions of cornucopia, camel caravans – the backbone of trade in ancient times, can easily be associated with the word.  The Greek historian Herodotus wrote in the 5th century BCE (Histories, Bk 4) about a camel caravan route, and all the wealth camels carried.

The Roman writer Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) noted in his Natural History that the caravans were managed by ancient Berbers, and goods traded back and forth were recorded: rock salt, gold, ivory, ebony, cedarwood, exotic beasts destined for the circuses, olive oil, fine ceramics, glassware, cloth, and spices. The caravans used to stop in oases, great spreads of luxuriant greenery, filled with date palms, lemon trees, fig trees, wheat, and vines!

A wealthy elite of those times sought ever more exotic and expensive goods from North Africa, including many a fine smelling load: oil lamps, incense burners, perfume bottles, tobacco, AND perfumes. And many a camel carried these precious goods across Sahara, so this is also the story behind Zoologist Camel.

Zoologist Camel is definitely one of my favorite Zoologist fragrances, I find it very interesting, and with a distinct character. It’s perfect for the first chilly days in Autumn, with all that ambery-glowing warmth it emanates.

If I close my eyes, I can see huge, brocaded, and tapestry-woven tribal saddlebags, taken off a kneeling camel somewhere in the sands behind a large souk, early in the morning before it opens. As you open the pouches of a saddlebag, scents rise, mix with the scent of resting animal, and with fragments of scents coming from the souk and city behind it.

Zoologist Camel Sample

The first, tightly packed bag Zoologist Camel upon opening releases an almost fresh whiff of dry spices, and cinammon-sprinked dry dates. As you rush to open other bags and pouches, scents of dried roses, honey and incense emerge, but the sweetness you feel is warm, dry, and delicious.

Dry dates and roses are such a lovely pairing in this fragrance, and the further it develops, very gentle incense and woody layers rise soflty. The animalic, slightly bitter and civety tone is present in the drydown, but not prominently – I like to visualise puffs of hot camel’s breath rising into air, as the animal rests peacefully after a long trip, relaxed.

I would just love to sit down in sand beside this Zoologist Camel, and lay my head on its warm and shaggy fur as I open all the saddlebags it carried, just to smell the goods within, still warm from the scoarching desert sunlight that got somehow accumulated between these pouches and warm camel hair.

What does cornucopia smell like to you? What perfume would you choose?

Zoologist Camel Notes: Dried Fruits, Frankincense, Palm Date, Rose, Amber, Cedar, Cinnamon, Incense, Jasmine, Myrrh, Orange Blossom, Civet, Musk, Oud, Sandalwood, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Vetiver / 20% Perfume Concentration, available at Zoologist.

Scent Semantics
Please do check out the rest of our Scent Semantics crew, blogging about CORNUCOPIA:
The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic
Photos: Zoologist Camel bottle photo by Zoologist, Elena Cvjetkovic

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  1. I love this perfume and own a big bottle. You’re right, it is a cornucopia and one of the few fragrances that packs In a lot without it feeling too squished. The first fragrance that came to mind for this worn was Halfeti, maybe because I just tried it and it’s at the top of my mind, but it’s roses but at the market.

  2. Hey Elena,
    LOVED the story, connection and perfume choice. You made it so alive for me I’m now thinking to try it myself.
    Portia xx

  3. What a fantastic choice! The Zoologist fragrances are always so original and well-considered. I love that you considered the spice route when choosing a perfume to pair with the month’s word. Bravo!

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