A question about eaglewood

Aloeswood seems to have more names than you can count and I’m curious about where some of them come from. Eaglewood in particular, at least if you believe wikipedia, seems to be the European name that comes from Lignum Aquila, and the reason given is aquila’s similarity to the pronunciation of another name for aloeswood, gaharu. I’m particularly curious as to where this comes from, as I’d like to track down the etymology for this use as far as I can. I realize it’s a long shot, but if ya know or know who might, please chip in!



  1. Mike said,

    June 19, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    But let’s not all go chewing on incense sticks now, mmkay?

  2. Mike said,

    June 19, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Dioscorides sayeth: 21. AGALLOCHON. Aloexylon Agallochon*Agallochurn is a kinde of wood, that is brought out of India, & Arabia, like to Thyne wood,**distinguished with spots of a sweet scent, somewhat astringent in the tast, with somme bitternesse,hauing a barck like to soft skinne, & sommewhat diuers coloured. Beeing chewed, & also thedecoction thereof gargalized up and downe ye mouth, causeth a sweet breath. And the powderthereof being sprinckled vpon it, doth serve for ye sweetning of the whole body. It is vsed also inperfumes, instead of Franckincense. But the roots of it, being dranck to ye weight of one drammedoth assuage the moyst griefs of ye stomach, & the weakenesse, & the heate of it. It is good alsofor them that have dolorem lateris, & for the Hepar, & for the Dysentericall & for the Torminosi,being dranck with water.* Possibly Thuia articulata.** Thyine-wood, Callitris quadrivalvis

  3. Mike said,

    June 19, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Well I can now see where the exhortation came from for further research, despite the fallout.. I searched for eaglewood without using the word etymology (alone it turns up lots of Eaglewood resorts and such). So I want to admit I’m at least guilty for being stupid or absent-minded enough not to search with the second word, so you won’t be seeing any scientific papers around here anytime soon. 😉

    A couple of these references come from older etymology books, which the previously referenced Japanese article probably got the same information from in that it appears to be part of a family tree of corruptions coming from the Sanskrit word agaru (itself a corruption of aghil). Unfortunately for my use the corruptions appear to be relatively recent given that the specific corruption was Portuguese, so it seems like the “eagle” part is relatively recent. Apparently there’s reference in (at least) Richard Burton’s Arabian Nights that describes it as Eaglewood because of the wood’s speckled nature, which if not the word’s original source is closer to an idea with what I’m doing fictionally.

    However it did turn up something useful, the first mention in Greek of the word Agallochon – Dioscorides AD 65.

  4. Mike said,

    June 16, 2008 at 8:48 am

    I’ve moved this to the appropriate thread, but this comment follows those posted in the Shunkodo kyaras thread.

    I’ll just make a quick comment about my eaglewood request. I’m writing a novel (fiction) in which I’m making a connection between the etymology of the word eaglewood and something else and I wanted to see if I could get it to work. But it just goes to show you that someone with a chip on his/her shoulder will interpret requests like this as negatively as their own shadow warrants, for example, like I was writing a new incense article (or, incredibly, an original scientific paper) and trying to get my readers to do my research. Whatever research I was doing on this term actually had nothing to do with ORS in terms of any future writing. In fact, well over a week ago, I mentioned my novel project at Mike’s Prattle:


    PS: I used Google to find the information about Greek mythology in the above link.

  5. Mike said,

    June 13, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions. I don’t have a translator at hand, otherwise I’d have been feeding them all the inserts I get in incense boxes. 🙂 But a couple of these other avenues are worth a try. Appreciate the advice. – Mike

  6. ibn said,

    June 13, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Perhaps one of your Japanese friends could get a copy of the relevant issue of The Journal of Japanese history of pharmacy and translate the article. Alternatively, you could try contacting the author via The Takeda Science Foundation, Juso, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka 532-8686. Here is a link to contact info for Takeda Pharmaceutical in Japan:


    You might also consider contacting the foundation directly for a reprint via


  7. Mike said,

    June 13, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Thanks ibn, wish there was a full article on that one, this is one where I want to see the details. Eaglewood as transcription error. 😀

  8. ibn said,

    June 13, 2008 at 7:46 am

    here is one reference to the etymology of the term eaglewood


    found using google

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