Ancient Incense Craze

Updated: 2007-05-18 09:25

Delicate Incense Burners

Ancient Incense Craze

Ancient Chinese made various kinds of incense burners, among which the censer and Xun Long, a frame place over a censer for scenting clothes, were the most popular. The earlier incense burners were all made of pottery and porcelain. Precious metals like gold and silver were later used to meet the increasing demand by the upper class for a cozier and dignified life.

During the peak years of the Tang Dynasty (618-907A.D.), one of the strongest dynasties in China's history, it had become a fashion among aristocrats to place a silver ball-shaped incense burner in their quilts, called Bei zhong xiang lu, to warm and perfume the bed. Delicate mechanics inside the burner ensured that no matter how it rolled, the incense inside the device would remain horizontal, meaning there was no danger that the burning incense could fall out.

Not only were the incense burners fine artistic works, but they are also devices of high mechanical value. The modern navigation device on the plane and the compass in ships actually operate on the same mechanical rules. In this case, no matter how bumpy it gets on a ship or plane might be, the compass positioned in the center remains horizontal.

The censers were in shapes of various animals and used to perfume and warm. In the Song Dynasty (960-1279A.D.), duck-shaped and lion-shaped copper censers were fashionable among government officials and scholars.

The making of censers entered its golden age during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911A.D.). The appearance of incense burning could be found everywhere from the royal palace to the most ordinary household..

Unfortunately, the art of incense making and the culture it fostered have now been lost,with the burning joss sticks in temples the only reminder of the past.


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