Perfume as an interpretive key to the Song of Songs

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.



The English version is available in the hardcopy edition of issue 2.2 and online:


About Marco Pedroni

Ph.D. in Sociology and social research methodology. I am a Researcher in the Sociology of Culture at the Università e-Campus (Italy), Faculty of Psychology. I got the National Scientific Qualification as Associate Professor (disciplinary area: Sociology of culture and communication). Formerly I was a Research Fellow and an Adjunct Professor of Sociology of Culture at the University of Bergamo, an Adjunct Professor of Communication Theory and Sociology at the Politecnico of Milan, and a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Sociology of Culture at the Università Cattolica of Milan, where I am a collaborator of the Centre for the Study of Fashion and Cultural Production (ModaCult). I am currently working on the role of identity and storytelling in the social media, on the themes of sharing and the collaborative economy, and on the cultural industries such as fashion and gambling. I've taught as a Guest Lecturer for several courses and institutions, including the London College of Fashion, the Milano Fashion Institute, the Marangoni Institute, the Universidad of Sevilla, the Izmir University of Economics, and the Winchester School of Art. I am the Editorial Assistant of the International Journal of Fashion Studies published by Intellect Books. I am the author of Coolhunting (2010) and a co-editor of Moda e arte (Fashion and Art, 2012). My most recent book is From Production to Consumption: The Cultural Industry of Fashion (Interdisciplinary, 2013). The full list of my scientific articles is available on my profile.

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