Question: What kind of ointment or perfume did Mary use to anoint Jesus?
Answer: Spikenard. (Mark 14:3)
Comments: Spikenard is the root of an Indian plant, the Nardostachys jatamansi, of the family of Valeriance. It grows in the Himalayas of China, India and Nepal. As such, it would have been imported and valuable in Jesus' day.
Nard oil is used as a perfume, an incense, a sedative, and an herbal medicine said to fight insomnia, birth difficulties, and other minor ailments.
It is called by the Arabs sunbul Hindi, "the Indian spike." In the New Testament this word is rendered nardos pistikos. The meaning of the unusual Greek adjective (pistikos), used only in Mark 14:2 and John 12:2, is unknown. Some have speculated the word implies genuiness (from pistis). Others claim the word testifies to its liquidity (from pinein). Some have claimed it comes from the Latin pistakie which would imply it was produced from the pistachhio tree. Others still have said that it is simply a trade name. The most probable opinion is that the word pistikos designates the nard as genuine or faithfully prepared. This interpretation accentuates the generosity of the gift. (John R. Donahue, Sacra Pagina: Mark, p. 386).