Chinese Censer – Incense Burner History

Ming Dynasty Tripod Censer
Ming Dynasty Tripod Censer

What is a censer? A censer is a vessel made to hold burning incense, they come in many shapes and sizes and are made from a great variety of materials, including porcelain, stone, cloisonné and bamboo.

Incense in China is used for many activities, including religious ceremonies, traditional medicine and ancestor veneration. Incense was used from Neolithic times and gaining prominence from the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasty’s. It reached its peak during the Song dynasty where the nobility went to the extent of building special rooms for the use of incense ceremonies. The Chinese word xiang not only means incense, but also fragrance, scent, aroma, perfume and spice.

V.I.P Jiu 8 – The Imperial Craft Baijiu
V.I.P Jiu 8 – The Imperial Craft Baijiu

Censers originated from the pottery tripod vessels of the neolithic period. The earliest bronze examples date from the Shang (c 1600 – 1046 BC.) and the western Zhou (c 1045 – 771 BC.) and were used as ritual and sacrificial vessels. By the time of the Song dynasty 960 – 1279) censers were in the scholar’s studio.

The first vessels designed specifically for burning incense appeared during the western Han dynasty (206 BC.- 8 AD) by this time ancient bowls like the ceramic dou or the three legged bronze ding had been adapted to hold incense. During the Ming dynasty (1369 – 1644) the ancient bronze shapes had became popular, so new censers imitating the shapes of ancient bronzes were made to meet the demand. The globular tripod censer became one of the most venerated shapes. Another popular censer the Boshan xianglu or hill censer from the Han dynasty (206 BC. – 220AD.) were made to represent the Bo mountain (Boshan) a mythical land of immortality.

Spice High-ball Baijiu Cocktail

45ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
2 drops of Angostura bitters
Soda water
Lemon twist
½ an inch stick of cinnamon
3 ice cubes

Put ice cubes, bitters, cinnamon and V.I.P Jiu 8 into a high-ball glass, stir and top up with soda water, garnish with lemon twist. Enjoy.

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