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Shampoo and Perfume in Ancient India


The earliest historical reference to Shampoo comes from Ancient India (c.50 BC). Word ‘Shampoo’ has a Sanskritic origin. It comes from the Hindi word “Champi” (चंपी) ultimately from Sanskrit “chapayati” (चपयति). When British colonized India, they learned everyday bathing and head wash from their Indian servants who called it Champi. The word Champi was spelled by the British as “Shampoo” and that is how it entered the English lexicon.


3000 years BEFORE Islam was even born, ancient Indians used perfumes. 4500-year-old terracotta perfume bottles have been found at Lothal (Gujarat). Sadly, some are sold in private markets. Perfumes have been very frequently mentioned in ancient Sanskrit literature. Brhatsamhita mentions different types of perfumes and the ways of making them. Gandhayukti (cosmetics) was listed as Kamashastra art. Periplus says perfumes were exported to Europe from Ancient India.