An Introduction to Han Traditional Incense Culture

In the ancient times, due to the unstable environment of people's growth, for example, food farming was often affected by various weathers, and lives were threatened by various natural disasters and other natural creatures. Therefore, people have awe of nature. Fragrant medicines and herbs were discovered through the life experience of the ancients. Because of their pleasant smell and different from ordinary plants and trees, the ancients cherished these fragrance medicines and herbs that were nurtured in nature. These fragrant medicines and herbs are often used in important festivals, occasions, and events. The ancient emperors often burned incense and herbs when worshiping, and by offering pleasant smoke, they wished to send their prayers to the gods along with the rising smoke. Royal nobles will also burn these precious spices to show their noble status and enjoy the beautiful smell.

Before the Han Dynasty, there were not many types of fragrances that were often used, such as "Lan Hui Jiao Gui" and so on. However, with the expansion of the Han Dynasty's sphere of influence, the Han people began to trade with people in other regions. Therefore, many new spices are imported from other places in the trade, and they are grown in China. During the Han dynasty and foreign trade, spices such as "chicken tongue fragrant" (cloves) began to appear. In the Jin Dynasty, because the Hu people were in power in the Central Plains, the cultural trade between the Han people and the Hu people exchanged each other, allowing more foreign incense fragrances to be used in the incense of the Han people.


In the Tang Dynasty, due to the prosperous cross-border trade, a large number of spice trades appeared. Therefore, the Tang Dynasty can be said to have reached the peak of incense culture. The great monk Tang Jianzhen went to Japan to spread the law, brought the incense culture of the Tang Dynasty to Japan, and let the Japanese incense culture begin to develop.

In the Song Dynasty, culture and art can be said to have reached the pinnacle of Han culture. From the book "The History of the Fragrant Medicine Trade in the Song Dynasty", we can understand how frequent the spice trade in the Song Dynasty. Song also "Chen Xiang spectrum", " Yan 's history incense" and other writing world, according to a variety of process and formulation was produced fragrant. Ordering tea, burning incense, arranging flowers, and hanging paintings were collectively called the Four Arts of Life by the Song people, and they were part of the literati's pursuit of an elegant life at that time. These four artists taste daily life through smell, taste, touch and vision, elevate their daily life to the realm of art, and enrich their inner self-cultivation and cultivation. Later, the Japanese learned the Song people’s tea order, incense, flower arrangement, and hanging paintings, and became the Japanese tea ceremony, incense way, Chinese way, calligraphy, etc., and got a higher level of development. In addition, in the Song Dynasty, the incense culture has become one of the lives of the scholar class and ordinary people. From the "Surfing the River on Qingming Festival", you can see that there are incense shops on the street selling incense products.

In the Ming Dynasty, due to the continuous development of the fragrant medicine trade, "Xiang Cheng" and other documents on the theme of incense appeared. In the Ming Dynasty, the famous Compendium of Materia Medica also recorded many methods of using fragrant medicine. In the Qing Dynasty, various books about incense were also included in the Siku Quanshu in the Qing Dynasty, which became an important textual research for later generations to refer to the ancient incense culture.

In the Republic of China and modern times, the incense culture has been gradually replaced by Western perfumes. The incense culture is now only retained in religious sacrifices, such as Buddhist temples and temples. The people still worship in the form of incense to pray for blessings. However, because the current fragrances are only used for religious functions, people have begun to ignore the importance of the fragrance of the fragrances. It is enough to burn ordinary wood powder to smoke, or there are more and more chemical fragrances. These are all for the human body. harmful. The ancients generally also used a combination of incense (a mixture of multiple fragrances), but in modern times, the general natural fragrances only use single-flavor incense (agarwood/sandalwood/cypress) and so on. All these make the traditional incense culture lose its soul.

Fragrant culture is a very important part of Han culture and art. We must re-understand it so that the wisdom and artistic sentiment of these ancients can continue to be passed on...

​The following is the preface of some incense scores recorded in the Siku Quanshu of the Qing Dynasty, from which we can see the historical development of the Han incense culture.

Original Preface to Chen's Fragrance Book Song·Chen Jing

The incense is one of the five odors, and people are submissive to it.

As for the fragrant spectrum, those who are not the emperor of the world who taste Hangbo Floating Sea can not know. Henan Chen's Fragrant Tree, from the son to the rebirth of Haoqing, is a collection of the various pedigrees from Gaofan, Hongyan and Shenye , and its great achievements are compiled here. Poems and books say fragrant but millet and Xiaozhi, so the word for fragrant is from millet to Gangu. Outside the millet, there are few who can be braised, orchids can be admired, and those who can be stunned are depressed, and there are few people named vanilla. At this time, the spectrum is nothing.

There are more and more famous things recorded in the Songs of Chu, but they have not been taken from Ya Yi. Since the Han and Tang Dynasties, those who speak incense must take the properties of the South China Sea. Therefore, it must not be without spectrum. Haoqing Guo Pengli used his spectrum to preface the angler Xiong Penglai. The angler stunned and said: How short of it is to reach me. It is not easy to choose a son to reincarnate.

Does the prefacer have no Penglai Jade Department with a fragrant orchid. Immortal Confucianism is not like the arbor of the old family, Zhilan Fangfu. Shiqing doesn't have the island to subdue the barbarian's words and boast fragrant astonishment. Isn't there a ship official in Chixian County of Shenzhou who has been entrusted with incense? There is no such thing as Bao Fanlin's house in the Shao Mansion. There is no such thing as Yaoying Yurui Luo Yingxiangze. Ladies who know incense will make the order. Ruopu also nailed it. Hope that it is poor and accustomed to it. In Mengjiu, there is a peak of Lushan Mountain which is regarded as Fengfeng, and the top piece of cloud is regarded as Xiangzi and it is in the spectrum. Recalling that Liu Ji and Xiang, who had passed through Zhuanxun, his master book, Zhang Tan, thinks that the vulgar Tan can be said to be forgiving. You Jihe can laugh and lead his words, but also a few good ones who have made up for it. There are scholars like Xun. Let you sit down for three days. Xiangmei Bachelor's sleeves are covered every morning. Cuff your sleeves to sit still. Putting incense is rich and noble. What the self-interested do. Unheard of, the saints regret it. Zhang Tan also adored the chrysanthemum by the odorous Tongru according to the etiquette scripture. The big husbands adopted by women are self-favored for generations. Therefore, Wei Wu could still ban incense in the house. Xie Xuanpei's sachet is safe from the stone. However, if the Qin Miao library does not have this score, there is no way to cure Gong Xun. As for self-knowledge, see and suppress. The person then thanked the guest for a long time. The guest is recorded as the preface of the incense spectrum to the rule of Renxu Lanqiu.

Xiangcheng Volume 1: Fragrance Ming·Zhou Jiaxuan

The most popular types of incense go to Guangya Prefecture and Hainan. However, Qin and Han had never heard of it before. It is only called Lanhuijiaogui. Until the Han Wu She Guang Shang Shulang played the role, there began to have chicken tongue incense and Zhu Yi offering incense. During the different Jinwu period, foreign countries also tribute to different incense. Emperor Yu Yang does not count the burning of agarwood on the volcano at night. Hainan all incense is complete. The emperor and courtiers of the Tang Ming Dynasty often used Shentan brain musk as the pavilion. Later Zhou Xiande offered rose water to Kunming. There has never been before, but now there is a fragrant fragrance. Or born in grass, or from wood, or flower, or solid, or knot, or leaf, or skin, or liquid, or artificially fried and made. ...

Preface to Yan's Xiang History Song·Yan Bowen

The method of burning incense is not seen in the three generations. The Confucianism of Han and Tang dynasties, a little used. Then return to the soul and fly qi from Taoism. Tantan and Jialuo flourished in Haolu. The strange ones include swallowtail, chicken tongue, dragon salivation, and phoenix brain. The different products include red and blue red sandalwood, white grass, and Tiangui.

Its preciousness includes sinking and male musk deer.

In its distance, there are stone leaves and wood honey.

The treasure of a hundred Zhuo. Fengbin’s monthly support is very expensive. It's invincible like a spray of beads and mist. However, many of them come from the strangers, and it is impossible to believe them.

Whether it has other desires or not, it is the harmony of the vulgar.
Scenting has its own advantages.

Only those who have gained samādhi do their best.

Because of the ancient and modern methods of fumigating and repairing, li is six chapters to describe the deeds of incense.

Therefore, it is said that the history of incense is not in vain for fumigation.

The five internal organs but the spleen likes fragrance.

It is especially difficult to go away with the view of nourishing the nose and improving the spirit.

However, the yellow crown and the robes are the books, the teachers have studied the spiritual altar for a long time, the jinyan hakama, the son shaozhun's bridal chamber, and optimism is also a book.

Not for nothing.

The Preface of the Yunan Family

​(The punctuation of the above sentence may be contrary to the original intent, please enlighten me to correct me)