The earliest known reference to a pomander place is in an ancient Chinese text dating back to AD 740. The author describes how he had been given one as a gift by his friend Li Qingchang. He goes on to say: “It has no smell at all; it looks like a piece of wood but when you strike it, there comes forth a fragrance so sweetly scented that I cannot describe it. It seems to me that if I could have such a thing always about my person, I should be able to live without any trouble.”
In 15th century Europe, the word Pomander came to mean a small box containing dried fruits and flowers used to scent clothing. In 16th century England, the term became associated with a kind of perfume container called a pomander. A pomander consisted of a wooden case filled with cloves, cinnamon sticks, rose petals, lavender buds, bay leaves, orange peel, nutmeg, mace, peppermint, and other aromatics. These ingredients would be placed inside the pomander and sealed up tight before being worn around the neck.
Pomander Balls and Potpourri
By the late 17th century, the use of pot pourri began to replace the pomander. Although both are still popular today, they differ greatly in their composition. While pot pourri contains mostly citrus oils, pomander balls contain more essential oil than pot pourri. They also tend to be larger and heavier because they include many different types of spice.
Pot Pourri vs. Pomander Ball
Both pot pourri and pomander balls can be found in stores throughout North America. However, most people who buy them do not realize what they really are. Many believe that pot pourri smells good while others think that pomander balls smell nice. Both products come in various sizes and shapes. For example, some pots are large enough to hold several pounds of material while others are only big enough to fit a few ounces. Similarly, some pomanders weigh less than half an ounce while others may weigh over two pounds!
What makes these differences important? Well, although both pot pourri and pommadors look similar, they actually perform very differently. Pot pourri tends to last longer since it does not require constant attention.
Uses of Pomander
Pomander is used in many of your favorite beauty products perfumes, cosmetics, candles, incense, bath salts, room sprays, sachets, and even air fresheners. Because of its long lasting properties, pomander is often added to body lotions, creams, shampoos, conditioner, hair spray, lip balm, etc. When combined with essential oils, pomander becomes a great addition to your home spa treatments.
Pomander is also used in jewelry making. You can make beautiful pendants using pomander beads, charms, earrings, gold link bracelet, gold lobster belt, gold tassel necklace, gold rings, gold bangles, brooches, pins, key chains, and much more. If you want to learn more about creating unique pieces of jewelry, check out our Jewelry Making Guide.
How To Make Your Own Pomander Beads
Making your own pomander bead requires just three simple steps. First, choose a color scheme based upon your mood. Next, select a variety of natural materials including seeds, berries, nuts, stones, shells, feathers, moss, twigs, bark, roots, and stems. Finally, combine the selected items together until you find something pleasing to your eye. Once you’ve created your design, simply string the components onto thread and add a clasp. Voila! Now you’re ready to wear your new creation. You could also use pomander for wedding decorations like the ones in this video.
During various eras and settings, bathing was something that was considered unhealthy (or something that only the wealthy did). The Middle Ages and Renaissance are two perfect examples. So, people had to find another way to cover body odors at least to some degree. The pomander was one solution to this problem. It also indirectly aided in protecting clothing and skin from various insects.
Pomander takes its name from Latin pomum de ambra‚ meaning ball or fruit and amber. This designation refers to the early form of pomanders, which resembled balls of fragrant herbs and spices. Originally this type of pomander was made out of dirt, clay, and aromatic resins. Pinches of this mixture went into elaborate jewelry cases that were designed for wearing or carrying. Some years down the line, the base of clay or dirt was replaced with soaked sponges, and then finally cloven fruit.
During the Victorian era pomanders were popularized. It was practical and had the perfect romantic appeal (the Victorians were enamored of the Middle Ages). At this juncture, however, the aromatics mixed with mothballs in closets, and sometimes caused sickness. So we‚ll avoid that tact. Making the cloven version of a pomander, however, is something anyone can learn to do. It’s a fun project for children, especially for gift giving.
I was introduced to cloven fruit in a historical recreation group. In some cases they used it for flavoring hot ciders and wine. In others, they used it as a portable mouth freshener (taking a clove before giving a kiss to a lady fair!). Nonetheless, the pomander’s basic function as an overall portable aromatic remained.
To make your own begin with choosing an orange, lemon, or lime. Take a toothpick and make a pattern of holes all around the fruit. Make sure these do not touch each other otherwise cloves will fall out as the fruit dries. Next, push whole cloves into each hole you‚ve created (note: the denser the clove coverage, the longer lasting the pomander will be.
Once that’s one, dust the fruit with sandalwood oil (about four drops per piece of fruit). Traditional spices for this purpose include allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. It’s important at this juncture to leave the pomander in a cool, dry location for about 5 weeks. The perfectly dry pomander will sound hollow when you tap on it. Afterward, wrap it in a ribbon so you can hang it where most desired.
These can also be used as holiday decorations on a tree or mantel