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Dukhoon (Smoke from oud wood)

Oil on canvas
77.5 X 35.4” (197 x 90cm)

We were preparing for a wedding. My young cousin came over to have her hair done by my mother’s French hairdresser. Before he began, we brought her a Midkhanah; an incense burner for oud, a fragrant dark resinous wood. The best quality oud comes from India; due its rarity its value increases by the day. Because of this, oud is a status symbol used by both men and women to perfume themselves before ceremonies and special occasions. It is best to do this before the head gets coated in layers of hair product; the smoke wafts through undone hair more easily—and, more importantly, one spark can send an elaborate hairdo up in flames. I stood back to watch this graceful young girl bend her slender neck, allowing the fingers of smoke to drift through her hair.