Turkish-Cologne Water

by Mitri Sirin

Une Grande Nation (Issue IV/2017)

Every day, guests came to my grandparents' house in Turkey. When we were on holiday, I could always smell when visitors were over. It was then that my grandmother went round with a bottle made of heavy crystal glass. Every guest was given a splash in the hand; a revitalising fragrance of lemon and lime. Kolonya is has long been a sign of hospitality and purity and it is also known as the scent of Turkey. In the 19th century, cologne found its way to the Ottoman Empire. There are cheap scents that smell like fragranced tissues and more expensive scents containing fig, rosemary or lavender. The bottles are also found in restaurants or hospitals. Many Turkish families in Germany have a Kolonya bottle, the scent of their homelands. I remembered this at the start of the Corona epidemic. I bought myself a bottle at my local Turkish greengrocer. Kolonya consists of eighty percent from ethanol and kills viruses. The Turkish Minister of Health encourages using it. Meanwhile, the ritual strengthens the feeling of togetherness during these distanced times.

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