Sunset Survivors from around the world - By Aarza (intern at Sunset Survivors Ltd)
In a rapidly developing world, many goods and services once vital to society are struggling to face global modernization and are quickly becoming redundant. In Lindsay Varty’s book Sunset Survivors, Hong Kong businesses at risk of extinction are dubbed as 'Sunset Industries.’ It is evident that these Sunset Industries are all over the world, and when they disappear, they can take a vital part of their communities' traditions and culture with them.
Take for example, the business of Ittar in India; Ittar (perfume) was once highly sought after and considered precious because the scent was long-lasting and pure of any chemicals. The process of making it is very time-consuming and meticulous but leads to powerful aromas. The oil-based perfume is created by boiling sweet-smelling flowers in water for twelve hours, then special vapours have to be drained and kept in a round vessel and submerged in water. After time, the oil separates from the water and is drained away. The entire process is repeated over and over for a month, until the oil is finally collected and stored in a leather casket to retain its scent. Ittar has signature flowery and earthy fragrances such as Rose, Jasmine, Magnolia, Poppy, and more.
However, Ittar is one of the many products in India that have faced many hardships in the face of modernization. Increasing taxes, skyrocketing prices of traditional ingredients, and an increasing popularity for branded synthetic perfumes, has meant that businesses that once exclusively made Ittar are forced to sell branded alcohol-based perfumes as well to survive. The exquisite Ittar is now considered an ‘old-world scent’ and is not as valuable as a branded perfume associated with ‘high city life.’
The tradition of Hispanic embroidery and crafts has also encountered many challenges. Handmade copper engravings, Retalbos (devotional paintings), and traditional basket weaving are just a few of these hispanic crafts. Nevertheless, all hope is not lost; the Traditional Spanish Market in Santa Fe, where traditional Hispanic arts are displayed and sold, was created to preserve and protect such crafts and to provide an environment where people can learn about them and their history. While one might not be able to save all of these dying businesses, through awareness and education we can learn about them and understand how they were important once upon a time.