Kyen

Discussion in 'Kodo Corner: The Wood' started by bhanny, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. PEARL

    PEARL Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2012
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    741
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Quogue, NY
    @kesiro In a review of the literature from our esteemed artisans, it's really not quite simple to see exactly what is kyen. Kyen lies between 'kayu minyak' low grade wood and 'seah' higher resin, incense grade wood, as evidenced here...
    Kyen can also be more fragrant than the blackest, most resinous wood and sell for a lot of money, as evidenced here...
    Kyen can be high resin content, as evidenced here...
    Or, high oil content, as evidenced here...
    Basically the term kyen covers a wide range of types and levels of resin or oil content and is very subjective, one mans kyen is anothers seah; it depends on who you're asking, the time of day and what oils are being distilled; in short, it's branding and doesn't dictate how an oil will smell. Also, to assess and grade wood based on one lousy cell phone photo is IMO impossible. Sure, one could guesstimate the weight but would it be accurate? How would one assess relative resin to oil density without holding it? How does one deteremine if it's the type of kyen that sells for a lot of money and is more fragrant than the blackest seah without burning it? How does one know if it's hollow, stuffed, painted, etc. from a picture? What's on the other side? IMO anyone claiming to be able to grade wood infallibly based on a picture only, is greatly overestimating their skillset and actually making a best guess.

    @kesiro it's true that the kodo master would likely not classify agarwood in Latin terms, however he would classify agarwood.
    Kodo masters follow one of two, or possibly more, classical schools, the Oieryuu school and the Shinoryu school; Kodo is the Japanese art, The Way of Fragrance and Mon-koh translates loosely from Japanese to mean, listening to incense (Kyarazen, 2013). Japanese grading of agarwood has a codified system of assessment based on things such as resin content, colour, shape and weight (Compton, n.d.).

    When speaking with a kodo master don't speak in Latin, use one of the following terms...
    The following is an outline of the classical go-mi rikkoku classification system, developed by literati and connoisseurs appointed by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa in the 16th Century:
    • Kyara~A name originating from the Sanskrit kara, meaning “black”. The highest quality variety of agarwood and possessing all five component flavours (as listed below), kyara is prized for its noble and elegant scent – like an aristocrat in its elegance and gracefulness. Sourced from Viet Nam.
    • Rakoku~A sharp and pungent smell similar to sandalwood and possessing bitter, salty and hot flavours – reminiscent of a warrior. Sourced from Thailand.
    • Manaban~With a great variety of scents and rich in resin ingredients and possessing mostly sweet flavours – coarse and unrefined, like a peasant. Believed to be sourced from the east (Malabar) coast of India, and perhaps from Indo-Malaysia.
    • Manaka~Among the scented woods, this type has a rather shallow scent and is not strongly related to any of the five flavours – light and changeable like a woman’s feelings. Sourced from Malacca (Malaysia).
    • Sasora~A quiet scent with a light and faint flavour, with good quality sasora mistaken for kyara, especially when it first begins to burn – reminiscent of a monk. Believed to be sourced from western India, but this is uncertain.
    • Sumatora~Rich in resin ingredients and sour at the beginning and end, sometimes easily mistaken for kyara – reminiscent of something distasteful and ill-bred, like a servant in his master’s clothing. Sourced in Sumatra (Indonesia).
    [Source: Kaori no Techo (Scent Handbook) (Shoyeido Corporation, 1991); Morita (1992)], (as cited in Compton, n.d.)

    From Kyarazen 2013,

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    @kesiro as you can see from the first box, assessment is done by visual, physical and heating properties.

    Compton, J. (n.d.). The use and trade of agarwood in Japan. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.459.1016&rep=rep1&type=pdf
    Kyarazen. (2013, May 6). Perspectives on the rikkoku gomi. Retrieved from https://www.kyarazen.com/perspectives-on-the-rikkoku-gomi/#
    The ability to take things at face value is easy for the naive, those who believe anything they're told and/or those not intellectually curious. There's a saying that ingenuity is the mother of invention; It's really ingenuity mixed with necessity and being inquisitive. The assumption that things are tainted by partisanship or emotional ties to self or others, can be done, assumed and/or perceived by one, any or all parties in discussion. Sometimes a cigar is a cigar, sometimes it's prank firecracker, depends on who's throwing the party, but you won't know until you light it.
     
    Oud Learner likes this.
  2. 5MeO

    5MeO Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    292
    Likes Received:
    489
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    USA
    A picture is worth a thousand words :) And even better with some words. Here are some dramatic kyen vs seah pictures..

    So, in the first two pictures, there is a piece of high grade "Yukinoshita" kyara - some pieces are named by the kodo masters in Japan, and this type is one of them. Next to it is a piece of delightful wild Thai Prachinburi wood ($12/g) - most def kyen type wood unless I'm mistaken. Can you guess which is which?
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Now, these next pics show, from left to right: 1. Prachinburi Thai 2. Vietnamese Yellow Soil 3. Laos sinking grade 4. Malaysian king super 5. Borneo sinking (maybe king super) 6. Beccariana sinking. 7. Khaoi Yai. Now, all of these smell amazing except for the Laos sinking, which is one of the least impressive woods in my whole collection - but it looks awesome no? The two Thai woods and especially the Vietnamese Yellow Soil are super light and low resin content. The piece of Prachinburi Thai and the piece of Borneo sinking each weigh about 7g - this gives you an idea of the difference in resin density.
    [​IMG]

    Same woods arranged a little different
    [​IMG]

    Prachinburi Thai on the left, Vietnamese Yellow Soil at the top
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
    SydnorIII, JohnH, Alkhadra and 3 others like this.
  3. Philip

    Philip Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Messages:
    243
    Likes Received:
    491
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Wonderful @5MeO thank you for that.
    Thanks to @Ensar and @Kruger for taking our questions about wood and Kyen. Greatly appreciated!
     
    Ensar Oud likes this.
  4. 5MeO

    5MeO Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    292
    Likes Received:
    489
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    USA
    Here's some more pics - this is a piece of "Miyagino" kyara - notice the different levels of resin and oil development. All part of the piece are highly fragrant..

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    SydnorIII, Rasoul S and Ensar Oud like this.
  5. Rasoul S

    Rasoul S Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2017
    Messages:
    1,174
    Likes Received:
    2,238
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    hi all,

    hoping to get more clarity on Kyen and now that things have calmed down, hopefully get back on the oud discourse train and learn more about this substance we all love so much.

    i learned that kyen doesnt mean no existence of resin but more oil than resin. as such when heating the wood a lower temp is desired, otherwise the oil will burn and have that acrid smoke. opposite is true for seah (more resin than oil content wood).

    It is my understanding that kyen usually but not always (only exception being kyara) turns into seah, given enough time. But is there such a thing as a many decade old infection kyen that is not kyara? e.g that philipino piece that @AZsmell and myself have from @Taha . would it be young infection (not super young to qualify as lue) or old? Not that it ultimately matters, as it is all about the scent -and this wood has magical scent i have seen seldom- , but what can I say, as a student of oud and a curious fellow I love to learn more.

    @Ensar @Adam @Kruger @Taha @Alkhadra ... i would appreciate if you can chime in when you have a minute to spare.
     
    SydnorIII and Ensar Oud like this.
  6. Alkhadra

    Alkhadra Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    289
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Saudi Arabia
    Well, where do I start off with Kyen? It's such a vague term for a vague grade of wood, like all things in Oud. How much percentage of oil vs. resin contained within the wood is required for it to be Kyen or Seah, where does it start and end?

    To answer your questions, we must first start off by understanding how resin is produced within Oud trees, and why such a thing as oil-grade wood even exists, even within trees that have sinking grade wood. Oil grade wood is what the name suggests, a grade of wood which contains oil (and some little resin).

    Here's a question to ask you, how does resin come into being? Is it produced along side with oil? Or does oil solidify and turn into resin?
    If you think it's produced along side with oil, then ask yourself why oil-grade wood exists.
    If you think oil solidifies and turns into resin, then ask yourself why it does so.

    Within these questions are the answers to this vague topic regarding kyen, which is completely blown out of proportion in the scope of Oud culture.

    I want to touch on another topic that I've kept silent on for some time. Why do people claim they can smell a kyen note? Smelling a kyen note is akin to claiming they can smell a sinking grade note? It suggests that kyen, across all varieties will share a note, which defines it as kyen. o_O
     
    SydnorIII and Rasoul S like this.
  7. Rasoul S

    Rasoul S Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2017
    Messages:
    1,174
    Likes Received:
    2,238
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    excellent post. i haven't tried really any other oil that is said to be made of kyen exclusively (JSL), so hard for me to take it any further. the philipina 1 by taha does have a certain hard to explain quality that if i was told is made from kyen (not saying it is exclusively) i can understand. it has a comparable quality to JSL.

    as for how resin comes to being, i dont know for certain either, except current belief i loosely hold is over time oil turns to resin with pressure and chemical reaction. we know the exceptions to the rule. if a piece is both high resin and high oil i would say the resin part is old infection, the oil rich part is younger infection or one that for some odd reason didnt have the chemical make up to turn into resin. would sandalwood be an apt example? 100+ year can go and the roots are still oil rich. to the best of my knowledge there is no resin in sandalwood.

    anyways i dont wana play this guessing game as this is not my area of expertise and as such i am happy to learn from the masters. even better from multiple masters, so we have the check and balance in place and have something that is peer reviewed.
     
    SydnorIII likes this.
  8. Ensar Oud

    Ensar Oud Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    1,436
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Singapore
    Saying that kyen is “oil grade wood” is misleading at best. Would you say the Filipino wood referenced in your original question is “oil grade wood” @Rasoul S? Or are you able to heat it and get a beautiful scent at low heat?
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
    SydnorIII likes this.
  9. Alkhadra

    Alkhadra Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    289
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Saudi Arabia
    Do you have a negative stigma attached to the term "oil grade wood"?

    It is what the name suggests, wood that contains oil, and little resin.

    How much does it contain of each exactly? Well, it's just as vague as kyen itself that it might as well be synonymous.

    Why do you assume that the term oil grade wood would denote it's scent? Oil grade wood can smell very beautiful, on low heat as both you and @Rasoul S have just suggested.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
    SydnorIII likes this.
  10. Ensar Oud

    Ensar Oud Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    1,436
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Singapore
    Not per se. If, however, it is misleadingly used to describe a completely different category of agarwood that sells for 10-20 times the price, I would do, yes.

    No sir, it is not. Out here on the distillation grounds, “kayu minyak” (literally, “oil grade wood”) means white wood that contains little oil. And zero resin.

    I hear you. If I had to make heads or tails of medicine after reading about it online, I’d be equally stymied. It’s kind of like saying, “Haemoglobin and gamma globulin are equally vague, so they might as well be synonymous.”

    I don’t assume. I know it. Oil grade wood sells for $5 a kilogram. $10 gets you ‘select’ grade. The smell, on low and high heat respectively, is either nil or akin to that of firewood.
     
    SydnorIII and Rasoul S like this.
  11. Alkhadra

    Alkhadra Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    289
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Saudi Arabia
    Back to the whole "Out here on the distillation grounds" stuff.:p I never said anything about "Kayu minyak" (literally, "oil wood"), I spoke about oil grade wood. Which is what Kyen literally is. A grade of wood that contains more oil than resin.

    I remember one time we had a short discussion on what Oud is and what Oud isn't, and you were of the opinion that Oud = the essential oil of Agarwood, achieved only through distillation. I saw then that you like to impose your own meanings to specific terms, and that's all fine and dandy, everyone is allowed to do so akhi, But I'm no person to talk about Haemoglobin or gamma globulin, because I don't go reading about either online, then follow up by writing about cryptoglobin for that matter.

    Do share with all of us, how much % of each (oil and resin) and at what ratios would you classify Kyen? As well as Seah.

    Anyways, happy to see you're alive and well habibi. Keep up the good work, was sad to see you away for awhile. :confused:
     
    Rasoul S likes this.
  12. Ensar Oud

    Ensar Oud Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    1,436
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Singapore
    Yep, always back to it. Someone’s gotta do it, if an entire community depends on it for nourishment! ;)
    I do agree that life would be much easier if we could all permanently inhabit cyberspace and make stuff up as we go kinda thing. But, having just flown in with 220 kilos divided among 9 suitcases carried by 5 people, one of them a senior citizen... I do take offense that you should diss my kyen by calling it oil grade wood. Incense sticks are made from ground up kyen, just FYI.

    I’m happy to see you alive and kicking, too, ya qalbi. And I’m based in Amman these days, so feel free to visit anytime! :)
     
    Rasoul S and Alkhadra like this.
  13. Alkhadra

    Alkhadra Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    289
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Saudi Arabia
    Lots of people are doing it. Our community is a lot bigger than a couple forums. :rolleyes:

    Impressive 220kg, was it all Oil grade wood by any chance? :D And Your kyen? :p Ain't dissing your Kyen, ain't dissing anyones Kyen.

    Jazak Allah for the invitation, I used to go to Irbid every now and then to visit some fam, but they've all relocated to Saudi just recently. Won't be in Jordan any time soon. :confused:
     
  14. Ensar Oud

    Ensar Oud Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    1,436
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Singapore
    Nah, can’t be bothered to fly across the world for oil grade wood, akhi. It is readily available on Facebook, as I’m sure you know too well! ;)

    Too bad we won’t be seeing you in person then. Maybe we could’ve finally gotten around to that job interview you were so keen on last year! :D
     
    Alkhadra likes this.
  15. Alkhadra

    Alkhadra Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    289
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Saudi Arabia
    I guess there's a reason to why we have so many mutual friends on Facebook. :oops:

    Haha keen is an understatement. I enjoy hard labor, beats any office job. I offered my services once to many to no avail. Allah knows what's best.
    Speaking of which, I do have open positions in Al Hashimi if anyone is interested, looking for someone with a degree in English literature. :p

    Back to the topic, still waiting on the % of oil and resin that makes Kyen... Kyen o_O
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
    Rasoul S likes this.
  16. Ensar Oud

    Ensar Oud Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    1,436
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Singapore
    Yeah, I guess some folks assume if they friend the same contacts they will soon have the same oils. Good luck with that.
    Personally, I don’t do a chemical analysis or molecular breakdown whenever looking to distill kyen. It’s kinda like the % of fat and protein in labneh vs yogurt. You know when you eat it, if it’s one or the other. But I can see how the distinction can be confusing for some people.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
    Alkhadra likes this.
  17. Alkhadra

    Alkhadra Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    289
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Saudi Arabia
    Ayaya, I was just joking. Why do you think I want your oils? o_O Sheesh man. I haven't even used Facebook in months.

    I know you don't do any analysis. That was the answer I was expecting from you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
    Rasoul S likes this.
  18. Ensar Oud

    Ensar Oud Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    1,436
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Singapore
    The crux of the question here, for everyone else reading this, is not the percentage of oil vs resin in the classification of kyen. It's the existence of kyen at all, in case you haven't caught on to either 'marketing' claim; i.e. that kyen does or doesn't exist.

    One camp would have you believe there is such a thing as high oil-content wood which matures to resinous heartwood. The other camp would have you believe the first camp is a horde of English lit majors who conjured kyen & seah out of thin air (and are therefore crooks, and you should therefore stop dealing with them and start dealing with the ESL camp instead).

    People like Russian Adam have sold oils named Velvet Kyen (and sundry other things Kyen) before, which should give you some food for thought. If the folks who are handling the wood and distilling with their own hands all seem to talk about 'kyen' then such a thing must be genuine distillation lingo that wasn't invented by Ensar.

    If there's anything certain about Russian Adam it's that he ain't no Yesenin (not to mention Bulgakov or Mayakovsky). The brother talks straight talk. So if he tells you Kyen exists, then exist it does.

    Maybe one of these days I'll start work on a treatise, "X number of Proofs for the Existence of Kyen". Until then, just take the Russian's word for it if you won't take the American's! ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
    Rasoul S and Philip like this.
  19. Rasoul S

    Rasoul S Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2017
    Messages:
    1,174
    Likes Received:
    2,238
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    @Ensar
    for when you have time. i am still hoping for an answer here. is there such a thing as decade or century old kyen? if so how and what happend there, since it is my udnerstanding that kyen ends up as resin eventually.
     
  20. Ensar Oud

    Ensar Oud Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    1,436
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Singapore
    There’s certainly decades-old kyen. Here’s what it looks like:

    [​IMG]

    As to what happened here, in the words of the greatest scholar, “I don’t know.” But when you slice into it, you find the hallmark oily striations that define kyen turn into a hard waxy sort of resistance like hardened caramel candy moreso than carving through wood. Trees, hombre. Trees. Some yield coconuts, others durian. Some hard resin, others semi-hard ‘resinified’ oleoresin. You want to walk into class and for me to draw an infallible mathematical equation on the blackboard. But this is neither physics nor mathematics. Nor is it chemistry. And if you insist that the process leading to hardened or semi-soft resin is invariably a chemical one, something a chemist or group of highly qualified chemistry nuts can get to the bottom of if they dedicated several centuries of observation and experiments to, all I can say in that case is, I am not that chemist!

    The centennial kyen featured above is just around 2 kg. Just last night, I offered to pay $200,000 for it, a price that is paid in the China market for the highest grade slabs of black, 100% resin-dense seah that you can carve into statues and miniatures.

    Their hearts in their mouths, @Kruger and @~A Coburn witnessed the whole exchange. The owner gave a chuckle, and asked for it to be put away. There was no deal. The price I offered was too low.

    Now, if you look at the shape of the piece, it is full of cuts, chiseled marks and holes. I have cooked oil from wood collected from those same holes and crevices. It smells like this wood does on low and medium heat and—to me—better than the wood.

    Does the math add up?
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018

Share This Page