Frankincense, the story of a tree that continues to weep for love

Reem Al-Kamali
Published: Updated:
Enable Read mode
100% Font Size

A legend has it that a girl from jinn fell in love with a human boy. Since this love was a violation of the jinn rules, they decided to punish her and transform her into something else. She cried for a long time and after they insisted that she must be punished, she chose to become a tree.

Thousands of years passed by and this silent and hurt tree that’s called frankincense continued to shed tears in the form of resin that solidified into white particles which smell of musk. It is therefore a girl in the shape of a tree weeping over her beloved.


Crystal tears that taste of grief came out of the trunk and people scattered them on burning coal to turn it into pure smoke with a scent that heals the sick and with a bitter taste that grieves for lost love.

With time, these tears turned into grains used in traditional medicine in ancient communities. Modern societies realized the worth of this medicine and learnt that it must be chewed and not swallowed as it has dental effects particularly in preventing bad odor.

They have also learnt it is helpful for chronic illnesses and that it can adjust the mood and help with depression and sadness. It can also be used to extract oil and clerics used it to burn incense and purify places of worship. It was thus made use of for several purposes and the tree became a source of profit for merchants.

A beautiful tree, which suffered as a result of love, heroically produced a material that healed people. Isn’t it love that we seek from each other?

Reem Al Kamali

Old myth

This old myth is from Dhofar in Oman, Yemen and the Horn of Africa as represented in Somalia. This tree’s incense can be found in every household in the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula or rather in the entire world. Doesn’t it deserve to transform into a literary project that the world celebrates? It must not just live through narrated stories.

This legend made a passionate love story – despite being mythical – turns into tangible reality. Doesn’t this narrative deserve to transform into a piece of literature in which the heroes are remembered?

Myths have no origin but narrating surprises is a beautiful literary concept that the entire world does. This tree has turned into a magnificent legend due to stories about it in folklore and narratives about the conflicts between good and evil and the difference in beliefs between the worlds of human and jinn.

A beautiful tree, which suffered as a result of love, heroically produced a material that healed people. Isn’t it love that we seek from each other? The tree is thus worthy of turning into indispensable mythological literature as the idea of writing legends and epics must not remain incomplete in our countries.

This article is also available in Arabic.
Reem Al-Kamali is an Emirati author and journalist based in the UAE who specializes in history and literature. Her twitter handle is @reemalkamali.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
Top Content Trending