Bronze Incense Burner
Be (a)ware of Incense Burning
story by Marlene Baltazar Manuncia, Yi Ji
Our story begins with a sixteenth-century incense burner – Chinese in shape but Arabic in embellishment. It bears inscriptions containing the shahada, the profession of faith in Islam. This tells us that it was made specifically for Muslims in the Chinese realm. As we reconstruct the tale, or rather imagined former life, of this seemingly unassuming censer, we will find ourselves entangled in layer upon layer of interwoven stories begging to be unravelled. And unravel we will, as we take you along on a fascinating journey across time and cultures, and on a perilous boat ride across the seas. But first, let us delight our senses with the scent of burning incense.