Resin Incense Through the Ages

The use of incense is as much a part of human history as the dwellings in which we reside and the temples where we worship. It’s commonality across the globe spans not only cultures but whole eras in time. If any one thing could be said to be universal it would surely be fire, but with fire comes the burning of substances to achieve desired aromatic effects herbal incense. The use of resin incense dates back many thousand years, but the true origins are lost forever in the mists of antiquity. It is possible that it may have first been used in ancient Sumerian or Babylonian cultures for worship, though to date; this is only a theory.

Regardless of who first began to burn this delightful, aromatic resin, it has enjoyed popularity in nearly every corner of the world throughout the ages, from; the ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Hindus, as well as many others. The Babylonians were known to burn incense when offering prayers to their oracles. The smoke was thought to act as a vehicle to carry their prayers to the gods.

From there the use spread to ancient Greece and Rome via the trade routes of the day. Ancient Chinese cultures are thought to have been using types of incense since the Neolithic period. Balls of resin incense have been found in the tombs of ancient Pharos and high ranking officials which could possibly hint at its expense as a commodity in the ancient world.

Incense was probably brought to Japan in the sixth century by Korean Buddhist monks who would use the smoke it produced, in purification rites; and also by the warrior class or Samurai who would perfume their armor to achieve invincibility; it was also considered to be a noble gesture to whoever might kill the warrior in battle. The earliest known use of resin incense dates to the fifth dynasty in ancient Egypt approximately forty five hundred years ago. This can be determined by dating the discovery of some of the earliest incense burners known to exist. This type of incense is usually made by combining: a fuel; such as charcoal or other combustible base, with gum or resin, and adding aromatic oils to give it a distinct, pleasant odor when burned. The number of materials were used in the manufacture of incense was numerous and vast. Most anything that would burn including wood, bark, fruits, seeds, leaves, roots, tree saps, flowers and many more. The precise method of manufacture for a particular type of incense would have been a closely guarded secret passed down to only a few select individuals.

Over the course of history; just about anything that would give off a pungent, if not pleasant, fragrance when burned has been used in the making of one of the many forms of incense. Some of the classic standards are Frankincense, Myrrh, Benzoin, Copal, Dragons Blood and many others. Experiment what you can find and enjoy. When using charcoal and a burning medium I suggest a high quality bamboo or Japanese charcoal made without chemical additives the fragrance will be much more pure and nontoxic. Make sure you burn your resins in only a heat and flame proof vessel with sand or ash in the bottom. Burning compounds to produce aromatic smoke is a very ancient practice indeed and the use of incense to: purify, bless, and even to heal, is at least as old as civilization itself. Enjoy!

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