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liveinabin1Offline
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PostPosted: 01-12-2013 13:14    Post subject: Smell Reply with quote

I was stood in the shower this morning and I thought about a part of an item on Tudor Monastery Farm last week. As part of that program they talked about personal hygiene. They said that to have a bath was unusual as the water just wasn't clean and people didn't think that they would get clean from it. They thought that it would get into their pores and make them ill. So they just wiped themselves over with a dry cloth. To clean their hair they combed it twice a day.

So this got me thinking. Things that smell bad are bad for us; off food, faeces and stagnant water for example. People who don't wash often smell bad to us too, but is this a modern sensibility? I remember when it was standard to have a bath once a week, on bath night. Now most people have a shower every day. The idea of underarm deodorant is a fairly new one, as is the concept of BO. Have our modern ways of life changed our idea of what smells bad?

It is often said that people from Japan find that people from the west smell of off milk. I can confirm that this is true. After just two weeks visiting Japan I noticed that people when I got back smelt of off milk.

I guess what I'm saying is that to our modern nostrils people in Tudor times would smell dreadful, but would they smell just fine to people living then? Would we think that they smell bad because to us unwashed means unhealthy?
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 01-12-2013 13:48    Post subject: Reply with quote

I seem to recall we may have discussed this on another thread a while ago.

Yes, I would say that in the past, people just got used to the smell and learned to screen it out.
These days, as most people wash frequently, it's a lot easier to notice someone who hasn't washed - because they may be the one person in a room radiating a natural human smell. If everybody in a room hadn't washed, nobody would notice.

Before civilisation, it's possible that humans did not wash - ever. Think of the stink!
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JamesWhiteheadOffline
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PostPosted: 01-12-2013 14:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

The poor were expected to be "shitten" in Medieval times but I seem to recall there were bath-houses or stews. At times of plague, they were shut down. As with today's massage parlours, the main attraction was probably not the advertised service.

I'm off out but the reference is probably in a book called The Medieval Underworld. Smile
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UrvogelOffline
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PostPosted: 01-12-2013 19:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Myth is right, it's just that you get used to the smell.

People who smoke for instance don't realise how vile it smells because they're used to it, but when they give up they often can't stand the smell of smoke anymore. It's the same with people who work in industries where they're exposed to strong smells, your nose becomes inured to it.

If the population has a whole didn't wash I imagine people didn't notice because everybody smelt like that. But in modern times where the vast majority wash regularly, when someone doesn't it stands out more.
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RyoHazukiOffline
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PostPosted: 01-12-2013 19:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is purely my own speculation, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone who lived in a relatively unpolluted environment didn't actually suffer the same kind of BO that we're familiar with.
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liveinabin1Offline
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PostPosted: 01-12-2013 22:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting point.
I wonder if their diet would have made a difference too?
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jimv1Offline
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PostPosted: 02-12-2013 10:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

It must have been a problem for them.
The first mention of the Pomander appears in the 13th century.

Wiki>

Quote:
A pomander, from French pomme d'ambre, i.e. apple of amber, is a ball made of perfumes, such as ambergris (whence the name), musk, or civet. The pomander was worn or carried in a vase, also known by the same name, as a protection against infection in times of pestilence or merely as a useful article to modify bad smells.[1] The globular cases which contained the pomanders were hung from a neck-chain or belt, or attached to the girdle, and were usually perforated and made of gold or silver. Sometimes they contained several partitions, in each of which was placed a different perfume.

The term “pomander” can be for the actual scented material itself or for the container that contains the scented material.[2][3][4] The container could have been made of gold or silver. Pomander can be a bag containing fragrant herbs. Pomanders were an early form of aromatherapy.



There's even a recipe from Nostradamus on how to make one!!!!

Quote:
Michel de Nostredame had a similar method and formula using about the same ingredients as above. His method for making aromatic balls:

The very first step was to make "rose tablets" by gathering a pound of roses without the flower heads, and seven ounces of ground benzoin. You were to put the roses soaking in deer musk water for a night. Then remove those roses afterwards and thoroughly squeeze out the water. Then grind them with the benzoin. And when grinding, put it with a quarter of ambergris and another of civet musk. After they were ground, you make tablets and put each one between two rose petals. Then you dry the tablets away from the sun.

The next major step was to take two ounces of the purest labdanum, an ounce each of Styrax calamites and benzoin, half an ounce of the previously made "rose tablets", one ounce of violet powder, and half a dram each ambergris and musk.

Next step Nostradmus says is to grind it all into a powder. Then knead it together with the rose-mixture mentioned just above for an hour and you will have an aromatic ball of the most supreme perfume, and the longest-lasting that can be made anywhere in the world.



Nostradamus' recipe is a long way away from the Lynx effect (or was it?) but the carrying of pomanders shows that in medieval times, they were very conscious of smells and sought to mask them.
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 02-12-2013 11:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

This may be why many people in the Middle East wear such a lot of strong-smelling perfume. They sweat a lot in the heat, and clean water for bathing in isn't particularly available - it's usually reserved for drinking.
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rynner2Online
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PostPosted: 02-12-2013 11:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

liveinabin1 wrote:
An interesting point.
I wonder if their diet would have made a difference too?

Almost certainly. My skin smells of garlic if I've eaten something particularly garlicious.

And I've noticed the smell of my urine often reflects what I've recently eaten too.
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ChrisBoardmanOffline
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PostPosted: 02-12-2013 13:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember once somebody wrote a question to a magazine, "why does my urine smell of sugar puffs?"

Strangely, I have smelt this myself at times.
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Heckler20Offline
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PostPosted: 02-12-2013 13:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisBoardman wrote:
I remember once somebody wrote a question to a magazine, "why does my urine smell of sugar puffs?"

Strangely, I have smelt this myself at times.


More importantly why does sugar puffs smell of peoples' urine?
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 02-12-2013 13:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Heckler20"]
ChrisBoardman wrote:
I remember once somebody wrote a question to a magazine, "why does my urine smell of sugar puffs?"

Strangely, I have smelt this myself at times.



Pisstachio nuts in them?
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 02-12-2013 15:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisBoardman wrote:
I remember once somebody wrote a question to a magazine, "why does my urine smell of sugar puffs?"

Strangely, I have smelt this myself at times.


Sounds like it could be excess sugar in your urine. Just guessing, probably happens after you've been on the lagers?
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GwenarOffline
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PostPosted: 02-12-2013 16:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw this article linked through io9.com - Teacher Informs Parents About Their Stinky Kids, Parents Freak Out

The teacher sent this notice:

Quote:
PLEASE READ [double-underlined, FOR EMPHASIS]

Several children in Pre-K ages 3-4 are coming to school (sometimes daily) with soiled, stained, or dirty clothes. Some give off unpleasant smells and some appear unclean and unkept.

Parents please take care of this matter. It is a health and safety concern. It also makes it difficult for me to be close to them or even want to touch them.

Enough said

Please sign and return so I know you've read this…


Then, in the comments, many people were recommending daily baths for children that age. Which, ok, fine - we didn't do that when we were young. Personally, I thought it was bad for their skin.

The real point is that daily bathing won't help with the fact that children that age are bundles of snot, feces, urine, spilled milk and whatever they've managed to sit in or wipe on themselves in the last few seconds.

Have modern noses become so sensitive that they can't stomach the scent of toddlers?[/quote]
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 02-12-2013 16:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that some people have indeed forgotten that young children do very quickly become dirty and in some cases turn up at school in that condition. It's normal.
I remember rolling about in piles of leaves with other kids on the walk to school when I was very young, during autumn time. Before the day had started, I'd be filthy!
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