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Shaal-Nur – Bright and warm and multi-faceted


A blink of an eye, snap of a finger, BANG, it’s winter. It’s way too early but it’s here, freezing and windy today. Tomorrow morning’s forecast is snow. Driving will be ugly. 

But that’s OK. I’m in an optimistic winter state-of-mind. I have Shaal-Nur by Italian design house, Etro. If I took my most favourite fragrance notes, swirled them together in a cloud and floated it past my nose, I bet I would smell Shaal-Nur.  It will keep a smile on my face for the next few months.

Etro is a family-owned haute design house started in 1968, based in Milan, Italy, which, like Prada, has come to define Italian style. Through the years the brand has become identified with their unique richly-coloured textile designs with the iconic paisley motif. Etro not only creates haute couture clothing for women and men, fashion accessories, and home decorations, but they have also curated a range of exquisite perfumes which brilliantly reflects the colour and texture, the luxury and detail found in their distinctive styles. 

Shaal Nur was released in 1997,  inspired by the female Indian ruler, Nur Jahan, “the Queen of Light”, a woman who ruled in place of her Mughal husband, Jahingir, (r. 1607 - 1628) who, preferring to seek the pleasures of drinking and hunting, left the business of the nation in his wife’s capable hands. Uniquely beautiful architecture in northern India is a result of her about her hereShaal-Nur, the fragrance is exotic but airy, enigmatic but expansive, and in its heart, glows with the gentle heat of an incense which soothes the soul. 

I love incense fragrances in the cold air of winter, and I’m definitely more partial to bright and airy rather than dark and gothic incense scents, although those have their appeal in the right moment. The scent of incense is created from a blend of notes from various groups - woody, floral, herbal, spicy, resinous – so the character of any incense scent you smell is a result of the perfumer’s creative vision. Shaal-Nur is in the bright and airy category – it’s dry and woody and floral and spicy, with subtle undertones of vanillic sweetness and a smoky darkness which give it an appealing mystery.

I absolutely love the opening. It is a synesthetic burst, a citrus rainbow of tangerine orange, lime green, lemon yellow, grapefruit pink, followed by peppery green herbs and spicy florals, like rose and karo koumande, which resembles the white florals, narcissus and jonquil. The scent feels playful and bright, with a commanding crispness that tells me there is a strong core to Shaal-Nur

And I’m right. The citrus top-notes begin to fade, and through the heart and into the dry-down the incense accord intensifies, with resins like opoponax, warm balsamic and honey-like, and distinctive cedarwood; sweet spices like nutmeg and coriander, leafy green herbals and grasses like patchouli and vetiver. In the end, a faint wash of dark vanilla and soft musk and myrrh corrals these notes into an incense that has warmth and light, is dry and inviting and so very different from the cool meditative character of Messe de Minuit, another incense fragrance from Etro listed in our Decant Store.  

Shaal-Nur is a veritable pot-pourri of notes, a perfect mix of my favourite notes, a multi-faceted fragrance that almost tricks my senses. It’s not a floral, or a woody, or a spice, or an aromatic but it reminds me of all of those types of scents. It is quite simply a vibrant uplifting warm incense, one that I’ll wear, one that anyone can wear happily during the dark cold days of winter. 

Shaal-Nur EdT is listed in our Decant Store, Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Image of Shaal-Nur packaging -