Bearing cultural identity, long history and wonderful values, Khanh Hoa agarwood is gaining increasing admiration and constantly spreading incense throughout the world.
Agarwood-Spirit of Heaven and Earth
The formation of agarwood is mysterious. Legend has it said that agar or aloes is the incense of the Heaven carried by the wind to land on the wound of agarwood and mixed with the resinous substance dripping from that wound and tempered over the time by good soil, sunshine, ocean breeze and other special natural factors, called the Sacred Spirit of Heaven and Earth.
Agarwood or aloeswood is scientifically called aquilaria. During its growth, it remains unknown why the tree gets injured and the resin in the tree sticks to resist external infestations. That resin gradually denatures and turns into agarwood. Therefore, aquilaria carrying agarwood is typically denuded, burled, bored by worms or struck by wind, lightning or even bomb. Lightning-struck aquilaria denatures to turn into agarwood.
The value of agarwood was discovered a very, very long time ago. From ancient times, only feudal rulers or royal elites could enjoy agarwood. Agarwood plays a critical role in religious ceremonies. According to legends, it helps connect the living souls with their ancestors and the gods. When agarwood is burnt, the spreading noble aroma creates a peaceful, warm, dignified atmosphere, shows the belief and admiration for the supernatural, brings light, hope and good-hearted thought, expels bad spirits to protect human beings, and guides them to good things. It is also believed that wearing a necklace or a bracelet made of agarwood brings wealth, class and luck. When it is kept inside the house, it represents the homeowner’s power and reputation and brings a joyful spirit, broad relationships, many offspring, and longevity.
Art of agarwood enjoyment
Believed to be the Sacred Spirit of Heaven, agarwood has become an integral part of Vietnamese life. The art of agarwood enjoyment is a longstanding unique cultural identity of Vietnamese people. Agarwood enjoyment is the full enjoyment of the pungent purity of agarwood, the inhale of fresh air, the absorption of tonic nutrients to every cell transformed into energy to refresh and relax the human mind and loosen the body to delight in the taste of life.
The art of agarwood enjoyment embraces great ideological, aesthetic, cultural values that inspire feelings and emotions for the enjoyer. It is observing and inhaling agarwood smoke hanging in the middle of the air, adoring young Vietnamese girls wearing traditional dress inside the chamber, watching blossoming flowers and lotus, sipping agarwood-scented tea, coffee or wine and tasting traditional cakes scented with agarwood.
Enjoying this art together with other folk art forms like cheo singing, cai luong singing, bai choi singing, cham dancing and popular modern songs is the combination of beauties for us to feel with our senses where we can find admirable qualifications, talents and skills beyond the commoner, and digest the goodwill of living in harmony with other people and with nature. Each of us will feel happy and confident in the bright future of our life.
The man who connects agarwood with the world
Khanh Hoa province has long been known as the land of agarwood. Khanh Hoa agarwood embraces its long history and culture linked with the legend of Po Nagar-the holy mother of the land and the gods, the symbol of happy life and prosperity. In the glory of Po Nagar and the gods always has the pure scent of Khanh Hoa agarwood and the majestic sea and mountain of Nha Trang-one of the most beautiful bays in the world.
Since the third century, Khanh Hoa agarwood was very well known in the world because Indian and Chinese merchants carried it along the legendary Silk Road to the Arab-Islamic world. But, historical upheavals caused the Khanh Hoa agarwood to vanish. Entrepreneur Nguyen Van Tuong, Director of Khanh Hoa Aquilaria Crassna Co., Ltd, realised this since the 1990s and he spent a lot of time and effort to travel to many countries across the world with a burning aspiration of revitalising the inherent value and reputation of agarwood.
Born in a poor family and having grown up in a poor country, entrepreneur Nguyen Van Tuong always asked himself “Why are we poor?” He always desired to get riches for himself, for his family and for the country. Not only that, he determined to get riches with dignity and reputation in the vast world.
“Vietnam is endowed with valuable natural fortunes. However, as smallholding farmers in Vietnam lacked business thinking and vision, we did not have world-class brand names. It seems that we are known to the world as a heroic nation, a hard-working people, rather than for our creativity and desire for wealthy life. As for agarwood, when I started to learn about it, I found that this was a very valuable, very high potential plant, not only inside our market but also in international markets,” he said.
He aspired to turn agarwood into a typical cultural brand of Vietnam. “I want to change public perception of agarwood, not just burning it for fragrance and perfume. Enjoying the scent of agarwood also has cultural values, disease-curing, health-boosting values and spiritual values as well. The three largest religions in the world today-Buddhism, Christianity and Islam-see agarwood as the holy perfume,” he explained.
In addition to promoting the spiritual culture of agarwood, Tuong also researched to create many other valuable products, including perfume. “The aroma of agarwood and its value is undeniable. Today, agarwood has been extracted and refined into perfume, which is more expensive than gold. Oil extracted from agarwood becomes a precious fragrance, extremely difficult to find in the natural environment,” he said.
To introduce Khanh Hoa agarwood to the world, entrepreneur Nguyen Van Tuong has recently invested a handsome amount of money to build an Agarwood Museum at the heart of the tourist city of Nha Trang, the capital of Khanh Hoa province, to exhibit the finest essence of agarwood culture to Vietnamese and foreign tourists.
At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 2017, he impressed international friends by presenting 100 unique agarwood hand fans to delegates at the first Senior Officials' Meetings (SOM1) and related APEC meetings Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa province. Accordingly, the fans have 22-cm long blades, stored in scented wooden boxes. The fans are sculptured with elegant, sophisticated patterns. The handle is engraved with the phrase “APEC Vietnam 2017, Nha Trang-Khanh Hoa.” Only 100 agarwood fans are made.
Entrepreneur Nguyen Van Tuong said that agarwood fans are made for presents because Khanh Hoa has long been known as the land of agarwood. Agarwood is the “Sacred Spirit of Heaven and Earth” that embraces a source of extraordinary energy and vitality and dispels bad souls. “Khanh Hoa agarwood is famous in Vietnam and the world. It is the Sacred Spirit of Heaven and Earth and made into fans by creative and skilful hands of Vietnamese artisans.” Fan-making is a longstanding traditional industry in Vietnam. Not only dispelling the heat, the fans also bring aesthetic values and embrace a long history, sophisticated philosophy, cultural beauty, artistry and Vietnamese tradition. The sacred value of agarwood blends with cultural, artistic and traditional beauty of the fans that Khanh Hoa Aquilaria Crassna Co., Ltd has made as gifts for APEC Vietnam 2017,” said Tuong.
Many scientists and politicians in Vietnam and in the world have visited Khanh Hoa Aquilaria Crassna Co., Ltd to learn about agarwood in addition to studies and assessments by prestigious domestic and international institutions. All have a high regard and admiration to the value of Khanh Hoa agarwood. This will be the premise and the opportunity to Khanh Hoa agarwood to reach out to the world, integrate deeper into the world and affirm its brand name.