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Lanzhou perfumer spends years recreating ancient incense

By Ma Jingna in Lanzhou and Chen Meiling | | Updated: 2021-01-08 16:03
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Lu Wen, a perfumer in Lanzhou, Gansu province, spent 10 years making 108 kinds of ancient incense once used in Chinese royal courts to record history and promote the art.

She learned the recipe from an old book called xiangsheng, meaning Sage of Fragrance in English. However, the production process was not recorded, and Lu conducted massive experiments to restore the fragrances.

For example, she picked nard in early summer, collected rainwater and dewdrops in autumn and used tools mentioned in the recipe.

"The process is long and complicated, and some incenses take one year to complete," she said, adding she once soaked cedar seed in yellow wine for half a year to make a particular incense.

Most of Lu's products were made in the shape of sticks ranging from 13 to 21 centimeters in length, easy for people to carry.

Many people link incense with religious events, but ancient people had other uses for it, like the way modern people use perfume, she said, adding she hopes incense can be learned about and appreciated by more people.

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