अशोक – Ashoka – Neela Vermeire Créations – Bertrand Duchaufour

For the Hindi version click here.

The Ashoka Chakra. The 24 spokes represent the words listed below. This chakra along with the lion pillars are found all over India even today.

The Ashoka Chakra
A chakra in this context is a wheel. The 24 spokes represent the words listed at the end of this post. These spokes were symbolic exhortations by the Emperor Ashoka to himself and to his people on how to live life without causing sorrow.

अशोक Ashoka
The season has changed bringing with it a new perfume from Neela Vermeire Creations; Ashoka.

The Emperor Ashoka was a season changer himself having decided after years of war to declare peace which he ushered into his Indian empire with the teachings of Buddha. Buddhism is a philosophy not a religion which is built over a framework called The Four Noble Truths which can be paraphrased as:

1. Suffering is a fact of life
2. Suffering comes from attachment, fear, covetousness and ignorance
3. You can remove the items above that cause suffering
4. Always choose the middle way rather than extreme positions


It was under a fig tree that Buddha sat while contemplating himself into enlightenment and it is the fig notes that makes this perfume so special. I am a great lover of the fig-based Philosykos EDT and soap so I was in no hurry to find another fig. But here we go; Neela and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour have moved the fig conversation to the next level with Ashoka by pairing fig with leather, then flowers then forest. It amazes me that this new house, founded in 2012, can bring out yet another outstanding perfume. This duo works well together; Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling were all superlative ‘fumes and I wear each of them every week with a strong partiality to the delicate sandalwood dream that is Trayee.

Bodhi tree leaves. Photo: DJ Buddha

Bodhi tree leaves. Photo: DJ Buddha

The perfume Ashoka evisions a power hungry man fighting his way to the position of Emperor who is later annealed to The Four Noble Truths as a bringer of peace and safety to other humans as well as “compassion for all living creatures beneath the sun”. This journey is achieved with a leather opening, followed by rose and mimosa to evoke crowds throwing petals at the Emperor.

Photo: J.M. Garb

Mysore Sandalwood. Photo: J.M. Garb

The drydown is as serene as sitting deep in a Mysore sandalwood forest gazing at a lotus pond, these being the two ingredients that I could smell at this stage.

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Throughout the journey though I can smell fig at various volumes (sometimes the leaf, sometimes the Bodhi tree), which is, as Olfactoria and Kafka agree, like a comforting embrace. There are various opinions about the opening; has the fragrance pyramid been turned upside down to reflect Ashoka’s journey from darkness to light? I have to say that it was only after reading the back story that I could smell the leather in the opening. Was I highly influenced by the story? You can make your own mind up. Such is the fragrant journey.

Leaves of the Bodhi / Banyan Tree, a type of fig. Ficus religiosa.

Ficus religiosa: leaves of the Bodhi / Banyan Tree, a type of fig.

The 24 ingredients in the perfume Ashoka are an olfactory expression of The Ashoka Chakra pictured above (see caption) and detailed below.

Neela says that Ashoka, the Warrior-Emperor was conquered by his own compassion. Ashoka, the perfume has conquered my heart, my mind and indeed my soul.

The heart shaped leaves of the Bodhi tree

The heart shaped leaves of the Bodhi tree

Ashoka: Fig in a Floral Forest.

Ashoka Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka – Neela Vermeire Creations
Perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour
Released: September 2013
Classification: Woody Aromatic

1. lotus
2. rose
3. water hyacinth
4. fig leaf
5. parsley leaf
6. osmanthus absolute
7. cassie absolute (acacia farnesiana)
8. iris
9. incense essence
10. jasmine sambac
11. fig milk
12. geranium
13. ylang-ylang
14. fir balsam absolute
15. myrrh
16. cedarwood
17. sandalwood
18. vanilla accord
19. ambre gris
20. birch
21. haitian vetiver
22. leather
23. styrax
24. heliotrope

The official launch of Ashoka is today at Pitti in Florence.
Neela Vermeire will be at the Fragranze Fragrance Fair to spritz you with Ashoka.

$US27 is the starting point to sample 3 x 2ml trial vials with your choices out of Ashoka, Mohur, Trayee and Bombay Bling. Another option is the discovery set at $US117 for 3 choices (10ml of each) to enjoy this journey into scent.
The sample sets and discovery sets with Ashoka EDP will be available from late September on the Neela Vermeire Creations website. A free sample of Ashoka will be included with every purchase of the NVC Discovery set which is 10 ml x 3 of the first trio.
More high-end niche houses should offer such gateway options so one can decide whether to commit to a high-end niche price.

The full bottle price of Ashoka at $US250 for 55ml is a true reflection of the ingredients and Bertrand’s artistry. The bottle is designed by Pierre Dinand and will be available from the 22 September 2013.

Neela Vermeire Creations – website

Further Reading
Kafka – feels like a mother’s loving caress
Chemist in The Bottle – 14 hours of Ashoka
CaFleureBon – Mark Behnke says Ashoka is better than those three earlier fragrances. A lovely journey.
Bois de Jasmin – Patricia Thomas thinks powerful and vivid opening… quiet and contemplative drydown.
Olfactoria’s Travels – Ashoka makes me feel calm and contented, patient and kind. Letting go of resentments, envy, anger, hatred and sorrow is not easy, I feel Ashoka is the kind of perfume that encourages me to do just that. To let go of the negative and focus on the good in my life. It sounds like a tall order for a mere perfume, but we all know of the power a scent can have over us.
The Non-Blonde – the new fragrance doesn’t open a window into a colorful outside world as much as it places a mirror in front of you and allows you to reflect on all that’s good and of the incredible gifts that are all around. As far as I’m concerned, Neela Vermeire’s Ashoka is one such gift.
Val, The Cookie Queen on Australian Perfume Junkies – a fulfillment…

The 24 spokes on the Ashoka Chakra carry the meaning of these words as the wheel spins night and day:

1. Love
2. Courage
3. Patience
4. Peacefulness
5. Magnanimity
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Selflessness
10. Self-Control
11. Self Sacrifice
12. Truthfulness
13. Righteousness
14. Justice
15. Mercy
16. Gracefulness
17. Humility
18. Empathy
19. Sympathy
20. Spiritual Knowledge
21. Moral Values
22. Spiritual Wisdom
23. Love of God
24. Faith or Belief or Hope

The Ashoka Chakra. The 24 spokes represent the words listed below. This chakra along with the lion pillars are found all over India even today.

The 24 ingredients in the perfume Ashoka are an olfactory expression of The Ashoka Chakra.

6 responses to “अशोक – Ashoka – Neela Vermeire Créations – Bertrand Duchaufour

  1. I have no doubt I will love this.
    The first three were great but this one sounds completely right for me – I love fig and lately, I wear a lot of leathery perfumes. Plus, Neela’s taste is exquisite.

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