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Mandala – Incense for l'intero universo, the whole universe

Mandala of the Six Chakravartins

My husband calls me into his studio the other morning, hands me the headphones and says: “Close your eyes and listen to this…”

“Okay”. I say, expecting to hear his new tune. 

Instead, I hear a quiet hum which soon expands into what I perceive as a human male voice, and then as the deep hum gains in intensity, the one voice becomes two. Chanting in wordless harmony the voices move together in waves, the second voice higher and softer, and after a couple of minutes, the harmonic effect is mesmerizing. I hear both voices but the harmonies are so close where does one stop and the other begin? The air in the room vibrates, and conscious thought disappears as I feel the sound flowing into and through me. 

“That’s the Buddhist over-tone singing you asked me about. By changing the position and shape of their mouth and larynx while chanting at a single pitch, a monk creates one or more overtones – he gets a harmonic series of notes from one fundamental sound. Sounds like two voices. It’s sort of like catching light in a prism and seeing a rainbow, only with sound waves. It’s so powerful!” he says, taking back his headphones.  

WOW! As the words come out of his mouth, I have a flash of insight into Mandala, the fragrance that’s been sitting on my desk for the past few weeks. 

“Thanks, hon, great research!” 

At my desk, I spritz my wrists, and Mandala, Act ll, Scene ll in the Opera of Life from Italian niche line, Masque Milano, begins.

Masque Milano describes Mandala as…”The whole universe…Light, rarefied air. Utter silence. Cows lazily lying on the grass stare at you, while you start spinning the prayer wheels. From the monastery comes the monks’ overtone singing - two notes chanting in perfect, peaceful harmony. A myrrh and incense fragrance - light and delicate. A contemplative atmosphere. Vibrating at two levels at the same time.”

Ahhh, the opening! It rolls out of the bottle in a big puff of dense exotic incense spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove – incense drifting from the dim interior of the monastery, not smoky but deeply aromatic. Soon there is an accord of sweet softness from myrrh and musky rooty angelica  – the grassy pastured hillside, blue sky, sunshine. The sensation is warm and contemplative but a dry cool airiness hovers as the initial notes deepen into the heart. 

Cardamom with licks of lemon, a green-woody cedar note add a peppery tone to the spiced accord. Leathery cistus is accented with salty musk of ambergris, an inspired contrast to the rich spice and woods. In the base, Mandala moves inside the cool stone monastery and the closeness of the monks and their music. Mandala becomes meditative, a solid accord of sandalwood, earthy oakmoss, spices, and aromatic incense wafting skyward, the contrasting accords of warm and cool, dense and airy, connecting earth with the heavens, the entire universe. 

There’s not a single flower in Mandala. It smells rich, it’s intensely aromatic with deep resinous notes from woods and spices but at the same time, it has an earthy freshness that is magnetic. The scent has a unique and powerful waft, which some may perceive as masculine, but to my nose is non-gendered and universal, a pure fragrance that feeds the soul and inspires reverence. 

Perfumer Christian Carbonnel created Mandala for Masque Milano owners Allesandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi. Aiming his creative light through a perfume prism, he’s revealed a rainbow of incense overtones, bringing their vision of a myrrh and incense fragrance to life.  The deep bass notes of incense and spice are paired in perfect harmony with the tenor notes of myrrh and woods and herbs, creating a whole universe where they sing like never before.

Mandala is listed in our Decant store. Decants are $9.00 for 1 ml.


Read about other acts and scenes in the Masque Milano Opera series:

Russian Tea– Act l, Scene lll - The shared experience of the Russian Tea ritual on a winter’s day in Leningrad/St. Petersberg ...Day faded; on the table, glowing, the samovar of evening boiled… (A.Pushkin)

L’Attesa- Act lll, Scene l – The Wait. A moment in time, a state of being, the preparation, the anticipation of an emotional reunion. On a summer night, everything is ready for the rendez-vous...

Romanza– Act lll, Scene ll - Overwhelming attraction, stirring you up. Still you are not in love – yet. As intoxicating as the indolic smell of the flowers in full bloom, coming from the garden.

Tango- Act lll, Scene lV - “A mid-summer night, the bower in full bloom, large wooden table, a liquor – and music. A warm and sensual perfume. Intense crescendo. 

Image - - unknown Tibetan artist