Discussion in 'Kodo Corner: The Wood' started by Ensar Oud, Dec 17, 2013.
How cruel... now I won´t sleep at all for a week at least! ;-)
For more info on Kyara, keep an eye on my blog. We will be publishing some of the most thoroughly researched information on Kyara I have come across to date.
It has been brought up time and again that using the term 'Kyara' in naming oud oils is misleading and inappropriate. So I think the time has come for some clarifications to be made, and some questions to be asked.
Firstly, no one knows what kyara is. Let me repeat that: No one knows what constitutes kyara. No one can explain the process that brings about the prized incense. Kyara remains a mystery to this day even for the most seasoned collectors of vintage kyara chips.
Some claim that the chemical make up of kyara is different to other types of agarwood. But how the resination process that leads to that chemical profile takes place, no one can say.
According to the logic of not naming oils save according to their generic characteristics, using such terms as 'Supreme' and 'Ateeq' and 'Sulaiman' in naming oud oils ought to be deemed equally misleading and dishonest. What may smell 'supreme' to one vendor might very well send you to the nearest sink to reach for the soap. What might be considered 'aged' by some was barely separated from water to another.
What I aim to accomplish in naming an oil 'Kinam' or 'Kyara' is one of two things. Either to denote that it somehow displays a scent facet of kyara chips when burned; or that it stands, in comparison to other oils in its category, as kyara does to other wood—i.e. that it constitutes the apex of that oud family.
As an example, Qi Nam Khmer did not smell like kyara, but it was the rarest Cambodian profile I have experienced to date. Port Moresby's gargantuan green scent reminds me of a facet of chewing and burning kinam at the same time like no other oil does.—I won't blame you if you disagree. Our skin chemistries are different. We perceive two different worlds entirely. So how should it be that every facet of every fragrance be experienced identically by radically different beings?
The question presents itself: Could it be that an oil is literally distilled from kyara wood?
When I first smelled Kyara LTD (the original batch) I was convinced that the oil I was smelling was literally distilled from kyara wood. It was my own conviction, and it pertained to me only. No one else was bound to agree with me or believe me. However it remains to this day the most sought-after oud oil that has ever been released.
Now how is this possible? How can anyone in his right mind, upon harvesting a kyara tree, proceed to distill oil from it?
Here, another question arises: At what stage of the resination process is a kyara tree, a kyara tree? Say the tree is 85 years when harvested. If left to grow for another 50 years, it would yield identifiable green kyara. Harvested at only 85 years, the resin has not hardened to the degree of being identified as incense grade agarwood, let alone kyara. Is this tree a kyara tree?
Which kyara expert out there—the ones who scoff at my using the term to name my oils—can answer this question for me? Who has the knowledge and the experience to enlighten us all, once and for all, on this subject?
Let me repeat the question: A tree is bound to yield kyara if left to grow for 135 years. But this same tree is harvested at only 85 years, before the resin has hardened. Is it a kyara tree? Or just a regular agarwood tree? And why?
thank you for bringing up that topic.
Let me share some thoughts about Kyara trees:
If we substitute, for the sake of this discussion, the word "kyara" with "cherry", we see a different definition coming. up.
The cherry tree will not produce apples, as it is its genetic disposition that only allows the tree to yield cherries.
Just like a Malaccensis will not be a Crassna, as it is his disposition to produce this type and not another type.
So, if we assume that "no-one knows what constitutes kyara" (as you wrote) could we also safely assume that kyara is not a genetic disposition, but is related to certain environmental factors, such as nutrients, age, climate etc.?
We could use yet another image to help clarify the issue: ALL students of the medical profression have the potential to become a doctor. But one will be a brain surgeon, the next one an opthalmologist, yet another a psychiatrist etc.
So do all agarwood trees have the potential to become a kyara tree, if only allowed to mature for 135 years? Certainly not as the enviromental factors will be different - according to the specific jungle.
I believe it is a process that yields kyara, a question of age, nutrients, soil, light, water and - of course - the bugs ;-)
But if a medical student has not yet made his disploma, he is not a doctor. And so an agarwood tree who has not yet produced kyara is an agarwood tree, and not a kyara tree.
Just my two cents!
The terms kyara and kinam, just like terms such as bunkwood, buoya, sien, king super, AB, kieah, incense grade, green oil kyara, black kyara, etc., are terms used in certain grading scales to describe the wood from Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees that have certain identifiable visual, physical, scent profile, chemical, etc. characteristics. Within a given tree there may exist several different grades of agarwood ranging from uninfected, non-resinated woods(bunk wood) to the most insanely resinated woods, the apex if you will, that may be termed kyara/kinam, if they have those characteristics that make it so. But, there is no such thing as a kyara tree, what we do have are Aquilaria and/or Gyrinops trees of certain age, infection, climate, species, sub species, etc. that may contain wood of the kyara/kinam grade.
This, exactly. These are the first and only thoughts that came to my mind when the issue of naming agarwood oils using terms such as kyara/kinam was presented, IMO the only viable reasons and likely the same thoughts that those who chose to scoff would have come up with had they asked themselves why anyone would use such terms, especially given the vendor/producer of said oils that use the terms. Also, IMO, there will be some that know the answer and still find reason and contend to scoff, just for the sake of scoffing.
Thank you both Thomas S and PEARL for chiming in. Your replies are extremely telling.
If we look at the cherry tree simile, it would seem to indicate that a kyara tree could qualify as a kyara tree no matter whether it contained any kyara or even any degree of infection: A cherry tree doesn't need to bear fruit in order to be classified as a cherry tree. But your next comparison takes a different view, which is echoed in PEARL's reply: that any agarwood tree, whether of the Aquilaria or Gyrinops genera, be it Aquilaria Crassna or Agallocha or Malaccensis or Sinensis, or Gyrinops Decipiens, Caudata, Walla, etc—has the potential to produce Kyara.
This stands in stark contrast to the Baieido 'official stance' on the subject, which I have discussed at length way back in the day with David Oller. He maintained that Kyara could only originate in trees of the Aquilaria Sinensis species that grew in Vietnam.—Anything not harvested in Vietnam, cannot be Kinam. That's the motto. Oller moreover posits that Kyara has a unique chemical profile which is not found in other types of jinko. There is a certain chemical called Dihydrokaronone which can only be found in Vietnamese Sinensis trees, as I recall him saying long ago and far away.
Now what does that say about the theory that any tree of the Aquilaria or Gyriniops genera could potentially yield Kyara? It would suggest that all Malaysian, Indonesian and New Guinean agarwood trees are going to be 'medical students' for quite a long time! They don't stand a chance of ever producing Kyara. If Kyara is a unique, ultra rare species of Aquilaria tree that only grows in Vietnam, as Baieido maintains, then a Kyara tree is a Kyara tree irrespective of whether it contains any Kyara, just as an apple tree remains an apple tree even if it never bears a single apple.
If the other theory is true, and Kyara is indeed the fruit of a unique combination of events which may take place in any type of Aquilaria or Gyrinops tree, then my original question still remains unanswered.... If that process is already in motion and we harvest the tree before the Kyara oleoresin has solidified, is not the essential oil currently amassing inside the trunk and slowly thickening and hardening into that oleoresin, Kyara essential oil?
If you say not, does that not entail that Kyara is only a type of wood, which is made up of undistillable hard resin that is chemically completely unrelated to the essential oil that collected and amassed into that resin over a period of many decades? I find that to be just a tad implausible. But don't panic. That is just my view. And I feel entitled to it just as anyone else might feel entitled to theirs.
One enthusiast admits being sold 'Kyara' by the owner of a major Japanese incense company which when shown to the owner of a different company was promptly dismissed as non-Kyara.—If the bigwigs of the Kyara trade themselves cannot agree as to what constitutes Kyara, who can?
It is fair to say, at this point, that Kyara is a subject we need to agree to disagree about. It is far from clear, given the amount of conflicting definitions of Kyara among artisans, hobbyists, incense manufacturers, agarwood hunters, million-dollar Kyara collection owners, and other enthusiasts—just what exactly Kyara is, where it originates, what triggers its formation, how it can be accurately identified.
In a subject as disagreed upon as this, where no two connoisseurs believe the same thing, how can any contributor be labelled as a marketing heretic for using the term to relate their understanding of Kyara's olfactory profile? Is it not rather rash of our Kyara experts to flame anyone who does not subscribe to their view of what constitutes Kyara, or how the term should be used, when they themselves cannot tell you what Kyara is to begin with?
Thanks you Ensar, for the conversation.
In my original post I stated, "what we do have are Aquilaria and/or Gyrinops trees of certain age, infection, climate, species, sub species, etc. that may contain wood of the kyara/kinam grade". I worded that purposely, although I have read that kyara comes from the Aquilaria species, specifically Aquilaria Sinensis,it stands to reason that kyara grade agarwood may indeed come from other agarwood producing trees. Case in point, if a piece of agarwood was taken to one of the Japanese incense masters and he found it to have the characteristics of kyara that he compared it to, wouldn't he grade it to be kyara as well, irrespective of origin or species? Or is it that the conditions, offending materials/substances/vectors, infection, immune response, climate, soil, etc. and the characteristics of kyara grade woods are distinct to the sinensis species and area in which it grows. As we know nature doesn't respond to political boundaries and demarcation lines, so at this point in time, experimentation, research and what we do know about the characteristics of kyara, the answer to the question of if Aquilaria Sinensis is the only species capable of producing kyara is speculative at best, IMO is stands to reason that it isn't.
In regard to your Kyara LTD oil and your conviction that it was distilled from kyara grade wood, I have no contest. Your expertise, knowledge, experience in the field, transparency and moreover, the integrity and quality of your oils leads me to believe that Kyara LTD was indeed distilled from wood that compared to other examples of kyara grade wood that YOU have experience with, in characteristics of the wood and scent profile of the resulting oil. In regard to other oils that use the kyara/kinam moniker, I believe that they too exhibit scent profiles of the heating of kyara grade wood that YOU have experience with, hence the usage of the term. Through your actions, ways and oils produced by you and consumed by many you have not given anyone, any reason to believe or accuse you of being misleading.
Blessings to you, PEARL. I rest my case.
Here's yet another Kyara theory some of you might find interesting. I met a bright and resourceful scientist in Borneo who was fascinated with the resination process of agarwood, particularly that of Kyara. Based in Malaysian Borneo, where you find numerous centennial aquilarias with zero infection, he hypothesized that the reason so many of the Cambodian and Vietnamese wild trees of old were infected across the board was because of all the wars that took place in those countries' jungles. He'd even studied the effects of bullet fillers on aquilaria cultures in his lab and made a shockingly convincing case that the attributes of Kyara could be traced back to the effects of bullet sulphur inside the wounded trees.
Kruger and I kept exchanging meaningful glances from across the table as he made his case, and we were all but convinced that the sole reason Kyara is almost exclusively found in Vietnam is thanks to the Vietnam War. The amount of bullets that went into those trees is unspeakable. And the effect of bullet sulphur inside the trunk was demonstrably different to the effects of say, lava touching the roots, or any type of bug stinging the trunk. If it weren't that Kyara was also found centuries ago, prior to the whistling of shrapnel in the jungles, there would be no shadow of a doubt in my mind that Kyara is just 'bullet agarwood'!
I was wondering is the only difference between Kyara and Kinam that the Japanese say Kyara and the Chinese use the word Kinam or does it go deeper?
I've heard of a theory where Kinam refers to Vietnamese & Kyara is used for non-Vietnamese strains, but I only came across that once. I certainly use the terms synonymously, likewise the Chinese collectors.
Interesting. Thanks for passing on the knowledge.
KZ has a great article on this.
Thank you very much for passing that on Oud_Learner. It was definitely a nice read.
Wow! I see USD$1.68 million at least.
Where were these pictures taken, and who owns the wood?
For a while I have been thinking to myself and considering what exactly distinguishes Kyara from Shoyeido and Kyara from Yama damatsu. Recently, the price of Kyara from Shoyeido went up from $995 to $1595/g, and the price for SS Kyara from Yama damatsu is around $390/g, both being in kakuwari cut. I know there are varying grades of Kyara and the factors that determine the quality depend on the school of thought. With the Japanese they focus on the aroma, Chinese focus on appearance. But instead of quality or grade it can simple be the demand that is affecting the price. Maybe more people buy Shoyeido than Yama damatsu, and the grade is equal between both companies. Either case, I simply do not know what is determing price, quality or demand, and if it is demand I would rather buy a equal quality kyara for a lower price.
I just checked Shoyeido website, the price did go up. Amazing! I wonder if the price in Japan stayed the same?
It is based on stock, that is why you can literally have a higher quality wood for less expense than a lower quality wood. So if the kyara is selling faster in Japan then the price is going to be higher, vice versa if it is not selling as quick. Just basic supply and demand really, I even tried contacting Shoyeido and Yama damatsu on the quality or grade of their kyara and if they had any knowledge about what distinguishes their wood from the opposing company. All I got was that their wood is based on aroma, I knew that much, and it comes from Vietnam, same answer from both companies. I just wanted to know if Shoyeido Kyara is the same grade of quality as Yama damatsut. I know Yama damatsu grades it from AB to SS. Shoyeido does not they just offer it at a price. So if SS is the highest you can go then Yama damatsu is a better deal, but then again maybe there is something I am missing regarding Shoyeido.
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