SANDALWOOD (from Fr. sandal, santal, Gr. travraXov, a&v5a.\oi>, Pers. sandal, chandan, Skt. chandana, the sandal tree; the form " sanders " is probably an English corruption), a fragrant wood obtained from various trees of the natural order Santalaceae, and principally from Santalum album, a native of India. The use of sandalwood dates as far back at least as the 5th century B.C. It is still extensively used in India and China, wherever Buddhism prevails, being employed in funeral rites and religious ceremonies. Until the middle of the 18th century India was the only source of sandalwood. The discovery of a sandalwood in the islands of the Pacific led to difficulties with the natives, often ending in bloodshed, the celebrated missionary John Williams (1796-1839), amongst others, having fallen a victim to an indiscriminate retaliation by the natives on white men visiting the islands. The loss of life in this trade was at one time even greater than in that of whaling, with which it ranked as one of the most adventurous of callings. In India sandalwood is largely used in the manufacture of boxes, fans and other ornamental articles of inlaid work, and to a limited extent in medicine as a domestic remedy for all kinds of pains and aches.
The oil, obtained by distilling the wood in chips, is largely used as a perfume, few native Indian attars or essential oils being free from admixture with it. In the form of powder or paste the wood is employed in the pigments used by the Brahmans for their distinguishing caste-marks.
Red sandalwood, known also as red sanders wood, is the product of a small leguminous tree, Pterocarpus santalinus, native of S. India, Ceylon and the Philippine Islands. Afresh surface of the wood has a rich deep red colour, which on exposure, however, assumes a dark brownish tint. In medieval times red sandalwood possessed a high reputation in medicine, and it was valued as a colouring ingredient in many dishes. It is pharmacologically quite inert. Now it is little used as a colouring agent in pharmacy, its principal application being in wool-dyeing. Several other species of Pterocarpus, notably P. indicus, contain the same dyeing principle and can be used as substitutes for red sandalwood. The barwood and camwood of the Guinea Coast of Africa, from Baphia nitida or an allied species, called santal rouge d'Afrique by the French, are also in all respects closely allied to the red sandalwood of Oriental countries.
As a substitute for copaiba (q.v.), sandalwood oil, distilled from the wood of Santalum album, is more expensive and pleasanter to take, but it is less efficient, as it does not contain any analogue to the valuable resin in copaiba.
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Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)