Agarwood and the Development of Incense Culture in China (Based on Written Sources and the Materials of Research in Hong Kong)

The material was received by the Editorial Board: 2015-10-8

In many countries in Eastern, South-Eastern and Central Asia from the ancient times incense has been a necessary element of religious and sacral rituals as well as of the everyday life of the household. Gradually, in the process of incense use a special culture distinguished by a large number of national variations was developed.

One of the most ancient traditions associated with the use of incense was formed in China: it first flourished (香文化 xiang wenhua) during the epoch of the Han dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) when the territory of China started growing with the accession of new lands in the south and through intensified contacts along the Great Silk Road.

It is impossible to point out specific applications of agarwood for medicinal purposes in traditional practices or study the peculiarities of ritual and game practices in the in­cense culture without taking into account the materials from the southern regions of China. It is equally impossible without considering the development of decorative arts and hand­icrafts connected with incense materials. By analysing the role of aquilaria (also known as agarwood) as the traditional essential part of incense culture in Eastern Asia it is possible to identify some major transformations in it. The following materials were analysed in this study: written sources and those collected during the field study conducted by the author in 2015 in Hong Kong (Chin. Hong Kong, lit. ‘(an) aromatic (fragrant) harbour’), long known as the center of the aromatic industry in the south of China.

Keywords: incense culture, Hong Kong, Aquilaria, agarwood, Institute of Agarwood in Hong Kong.

Agarwood and the Development of Incense Culture in China (Based on Written Sources and the Materials of Research in Hong Kong)
References: Elena E. Voytishek Agarwood and the Development of Incense Culture in China (Based on Written Sources and the Materials of Research in Hong Kong) . Universum Humanitarium (En). 2, #1. С. 61–74.