Perfume as an interpretive key to the Song of Songs
by Dana Keren Yaar
International Journal of Fashion Studies, Issue 2.2 (2015)
perfume, physical bonding, Song of Songs, nonverbal language, Kristeva, ambiguity of love, maternal intimacy
The Song of Songs is a biblical text filled with the names of perfumes and, in terms of form, it is infused with ambiguity, vagueness and loose connections. The article suggests that perfume is an essential element in the biblical text. The image of perfume is not a mere diversion that is subordinate to a coherent plot, but is rather a means to undermine the plot and set the open and effervescent tone of the entire song. In the same spirit, the article does not attempt to offer a unified interpretation, but instead adapts to the expansive character of the ‘perfumed’ biblical text, inviting multiple readings. The present reading searches for the various appearances of the perfume motif in order to locate the mother figure. This marginal and almost hidden figure in the Song of Songs is related to the aspect of scent and is mysteriously juxtaposed with the figure of the lovers. The article claims that by sliding down the fragrant, yet obscure, path connecting the love between lovers to the love of a mother for her children, we discover that the mother proves to be the source of the bond between the lovers and a critical figure in the development of love.