On Incense-Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics: Hymns-Liberty By James Hastings


 Incense from the Sacrafice of Abraham

INCENSE.—The custom of burning sweet smelling substances in religious ceremonies, or sometimes as a separate rite, has been of wide-spread occurrence, especially in the higher religions.

i. Kinds of incense.—While frankincense and other gum resins are more strictly to be called incense, many other substances have been used for the purpose of producing an agreeable odour when burned—various kinds of wood or bark, branches or roots of tree9, herbs and odoriferous plants, seeds, flowers, fruits, aromatic earths, etc.

Ot substances referred to in the Bible which are known to have been used by the Hebrews and other peoples as incense there an: (1) Wood—aloes (eagle-wood), Ca «f«, ct. Diosoor. L 21; sweet cane, Jer 620. (2) Bark—cassia, Pa 45»; cinnamon, BerlgU. (8) foots—castas, Ex SO". (4) Gum rains—balm <! mastic), On 37», Erk 27"; tragacanth (spicery), On 87*»; balaam (spices;, Ca &>•'»; bdellium. On 2«, c(. Diosoor. L 80; galbanum, Ex SO"; ladanum (myrrh), On 37%; stacte. Ex 30**; frankincense. Ex 303*. (5) Flower products—saffron, Ca 414; spikenard, Ca 41*. (6) Animal product*—onycha(the operculum of a marine mollusc). Ex 3034.

The sacred incense used in later Hebrew ritual was a compound of stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, seasoned with salt and reduced to a fine powder.1 In still later times—the Herodian period—Josephus records that thirteeu ingredients (sweet-smelling spices) were used.* Plutarch gives a list of sixteen ingredient* used by the Egyptians in prei*aring btphi— honey, wine, raisins, sweet rush, resin, myrrh, frankincense, seseus, calamus, asphalt, thryon, dock, both kinds of aiwuthids, cardamum, and orris root.' In both cases the compounding was of ritual importance and a matter of mystery, oacred books were read aloud while the kuphi was being mixed.

Frankincense (Gr. Xt^avurrbt, Heb. I'blidndh, Med. Lat olibanum, libanns in Vulg. of Sir 24" 391B) is the gum resin of trees of the genus Boswcllia \B. Carterii, B. Frereana, B. Bhua-Dajicma), and is exported from Somaliland, probably the Punt of Egyptian inscriptions. Pliny* refers to it as a product of Arabia (Hadramaut), and says that the oabeEi alone behold the tree which produces it, and of these only 3000 families by virtue of hereditary succession. The trees are sacred ; and, while pruning the trees or gathering the resin, men must

i Ex so". a ft/v. v. 6.

• cb/sid.81. < y/.Vxii. i4ff.

not contract pollution by sexual intercourse or contact with a corpse. It is carried to Sabota, where the priests claim a tithe of it in honour of their god Sabis; until this is paid, none of it may be disposed of. Herodotus' speaks of winged serpents which guard the trees and are driven off by training styrax. It was one of the ingredients of Jewish incense,1 as it is still of that used in Christian ritual. Classical authors, in speaking of frankincense, usually refer to its exporting place as the seat of its origin, e.g. Syria and Phoenicia.

2. Purpose df incense.—The use of incense is connected primarily with the psychical aspects of the sense of smell. Pleasant-smelling perfumes, in whatever way they are obtained, are agreeable to men. They were offered to honourable persons in ancient times, or diffused over the roads on which they travelled.' Incense was also used at banquets as an agreeable accompaniment of food and wine. Hence it was supposed that such perfumes would also be agreeable to gods or spirits, on the same principle as that by which foodstuffs which men liked were offered to them. This is obvious when we consider that the smoke of sacrifice is pleasing to the gods, and that they are thought to seize on 'the unctuous smoke' with delight,4 and that flowers are commonly offered to the gods, or scented oils applied to their images.1 The bodies of the dead are also decked with flowers, aromatic oils, and perfumes for the same reason. Disagreeable odours, being obnoxious to men, were also obnoxious to supernatural beings. Hence it came to be thought that beneficent gods not only liked, but actually themselves possessed, pleasant odours.

Egyptian texts Illustrate these beliefs. Ms baa a wonderful odour which she can transfer to others, e.g. to the dead. Osiris transfers his odour to those whom he loves. At the anointing ot the corpse, the ' perfume on the head ot Horus * la besought to place itself on that of the deceased.8 Similar ideas are found in Mandaean belief. The Light beings have a perfume which invigorates those who smell it.' in Persian belief the righteous after death are said to have a sweet odour.8 The region of the gods, the place of bliss, has also a sweet perfume. The Polynesian Rohutu is free from all noxious odours.9 In the Persian texts the deceased, approaching the blissful regions, is surrounded by a perfumed breeze.10 Sweet odours form one of the characteristics of Hindu and Buddhist Paradises, and, where Divine beings or saints descend to the malodorous hells, they change the evil odour to sweet perfume.11 Evil odours characterize the Persian regions of punishment, as well as the Muhammadan and Christian hell.1' The idea that Paradise has a iileasant odour is found in Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic writings. Thus in the regions of the eastern Paradise and the 'garden of righteousness' visited by Enoch there are many fragrant aromatic trees, i.e. those which yield material for incense, and among them one ' with a fmgranco beyond all fragrance.'18 The idea that Paradise is a region of fragrant perfume appears already in the Apoe. of Peter, and is found in most accounts of visits to or visions of the Other-World, while the same idea is referred to in inscriptions on Christian gravestones.14 Spiritual persons and martyrs also possess this fragrance.18 in Onostic writings this perfume is connected with
[ocr errors]

the powers of the upper world, or the various heavens.1 In Onostic and Christian circles the anointing with fragrant oil had the effect of repelling the demons, because it was ' a type of that sweet odour which is above all things.'8

While evil odours are obnoxious to gods, they also scare off demons, who are likewise put to flight by pleasant odours, e.g. that of incense, which is one of the material objects commonly credited with magical virtues. The Andaman Islanders believe that the smell of bees'-wax is offensive to a demon of epidemic, who is kept off by stakes painted with it.* The Kei Islanders (New Guinea) burn the scrapings of buffalo horn to drive off demons.* The Thompson River Indians scare off ghosts by burning juniper.* In India, incense, which pleases the gods, drives off demons, who are also kept off by offensive odours.* In Canton, on the third day of the tenth month, filth is swept out of the house, and three sticks of incense are used to drive off the demon of penury.7 In Palestine it is commonly used as an apotropoeic,8and in Morocco before and during the 'Great Fast' incense is burned to keep off the jinn.* Incense, because dreaded by evil spirits, is one of the ingredients of the 'amulet-box in Tibet. ** In Greece, at the Anthesteria and also at child-birth, doors were smeared with pitch to keep out ghosts and demons.11 The Book of Tobit" illustrates this belief among the Jews. The liver and heart of a fish are laid on 'ashes of perfumes' so as to cause a smoke. When the demon smells this, he flees away to Egypt. In modern survivals similar ideas are found. In the Tyrol, witches are expelled by fumigating houses with juniper, and by burning rosemary, hemlock, sloe, and resinous splinters. Fairies are also kept off by strong odours, e.g. burning an old shoe, or by garlic.1* Hence, generally, fumigation is a method of purifying persons and places, and of scaring off all kinds of evil influences; and for this incense is often used, as, e.g., in mourning ceremonies in China.14

Besides the primary purpose of the use of incense as an offering pleasing to the gods, there were other practical, symbolic, or mystical uses which it served. (1) It was burned to neutralize the strong odours of bloody or burnt sacrifices, especially in hot regions. It was also used for sanitary reasons, e.g. in places where the dead were buried.1* (2) It was likewise a symbol or vehicle of prayer. This is already found in Egypt, where it was thought that the smoke as it rose bore words of power or of prayer to the gods, who were pleased by its odour. The soul of the dead ascended to heaven by the smoke of the incense burned on his behalf." In Jewish thought, prayer was connected with incense. In Ps 141s it is compared to incense. Cf. Kev 58, where golden bowls full of incense represent prayer. In Rev 83-4 prayer rises

1 Cf. Iren. L iv. 1; Hippol. Philosoph. v. 14, vii. 10; Apoc.

Acts, passim.

* Iren. I. xxi. 3.

» E. H. Man, JAI xii. [1883] 97.

* Frazer, GB? iii. 68.

* J. Teit, Memoirs Amer. Mus. of Nat. Hist. ii. pt. 4 [1900], p. 832.

* Crooke, PR », 1896, U. 21; cf. ERE ill. 445*.

1 L'Anthrop. iv. [1893] 175 f. « FL xviil. [1907] 89.

» E. Westermarck, FL xxii. [1911] 182, 142. 1° See ERE iii. 488>>.

11 Hesychius, s.v. utapai nujpat ; Photius, s.v. paupov

H 67. lb. 17 82- 3.

13 J. O.Campbell, Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Glasgow, 1900, p. 38; E. 8. Hartland, Science of Fairy Tales, London, 1891, p. 99.

•4 J. J. M. de Oroot, Rel. System of China, Leyden, 1892 ff., 1. 88, 77; cf. W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem.*, London, 1894, p. 426 ; M. Jast row, Aspects of Rel. Belief and Practice in Bab. and Assyr., New York, 1911, p. 318 (purification of house after sickness with torches and censers); cf. also ERE iv. 729b, 762*.

« Cf. Tert, de Cor. Mil. 10; Apol. 30, 42.

w Budge, op. dt. iii. 256; cf. the idea current in the New Hebrides that the soul of the departed rose to the sun on the flre kindled at the grave (Q. Turner, Samoa, London, 1884, p. 835).

with the smoke of the incense, as in the Egyptian view. So in Christian thought incense has usually been regarded as symbolic of prayer, though it also typifies contrition, the preaching of the faith, etc (3) More mystical views have sometimes been entertained. Plutarch explains the beneficial effect of the Egyptian kuphi by saying that its sixteen ingredients are a square out of a square. Being composed of aromatic ingredients, it lulls people to sleep, loosens the tension of daily anxieties, and brightens the dreams. It is made of things that delight most in the night and exhibits its virtues by night.1 Plutarch also gives medico-mystical reasons for the burning of other substances at other times, e.g. resin in the morning to purify the air, because of its strong and penetrating quality; myrrh at midday, because its hot nature dissolves and disperses the turbid qualities in the air.' Philo explains the four ingredients of the Hebrew incense as symbolizing the four elements, and thus representing the universe.* Josephus writes that the altar of incense, with the thirteen kinds of sweet-smelling things gathered from all places, points to the fact that God is Lord of all4 In the Orphic hymns the different substances used and offered to the gods are chosen because of some occult reason in each case.

W. R. Smith (426 f.) considers the religious value of incense as originally independent of animal sacrifice, since frankincense was the gum of a very holy species of tree collected with religious precautions. The right to see the trees was reserved to certAin sacred families. While harvesting the gum they mu
3. Ritual use of incense in ethnic religions.—(a)

Lower races.—The use of incense among lower races is hardly known, save perhaps where they have been in contact with higher races using it. We may, however, note the American Indian custom of offering tobacco smoke to the gods, and the Polynesian offering of flowers and aromatic substances.' Among the Sakai, Seniang, Jakun, etc., the only common kind of offering is the burning of incense (benzoin). At a death among th« Sakai, the magician waves a censer seven times over the body, recommending the dying man to think of his dead ancestors. As the smoke mounts up and then vanishes, so does the soul. Good spirits love its smell and evil spirits hate it. In sickness, among the savage Malays of Johore, the magician burns incense. The fumes rise to the abode of Jewa-Jewa and gratify him. He welcomes the soul of the magician and grants him medicine for the sick.7 Incense is burned as an offering at shrines, saints' tombs, etc., among the Malays, and is the usual form of burnt sacrifice, with invocation to the Spirit of Incense. It reaches the nostrils of the gods and propitiates them as a foretaste of other offerings to follow.8 It is also used in magical ceremonies, e.g. to make one walk on water or remain under water in an ordeal, in the use of the divining rod, or to cause a spirit to possess a magician.* Callaway refers to 'incense' burned with Zulu animal sacrifices (blood and caul of a bullock) to the spirits, in order to give them a sweet savour. It is apparently some native product and is also used in rites for the cure of sickness.10

(6) Among the Semites the use of incense came to be wide-spread. Its name among the Babylonians was fcutrinnu, and the meense-offering

1 de Isid. 81. * lb. 80.

8 Qnis rerum divin. heres. 41. * BJ v. v. 6.

» Pliny, xii. 64. 6Turner, i. 86,71.

7 Skeat-Iilagden, Pagan Races of the Malay Penintuh, London, 1906, ii. 98,199, 352.

* W. W. Skeat. Malay Magic, London, 1900, p. 74 f.

• Skeat, FL xiii. [1902) 136, 1441., 162.

10 Religious System of the Amasulu, Natal, 1870, London, 1874, pp. 141, 174.

consisted of odoriferous woods (cedar, cypress), myrtle, cane, and sweet herbs, by which the gods were made to smell a pleasing odour. After the Deluge, its survivor ottered calamus, cedar, and fragrant herbs, and 'the gods inhaled the sweet odour'and 'gathered like flies round the sacrificer.'1 Incense is frequently mentioned in the texts—e.g., 'before Saras* he makes an incense-offering'—or kings are represented making this ottering. Nabonnedos is described as filling the temple with the odour of incense.' Herodotus' says that 1000 talents of frankincense were ottered on the great altar of Bel at his annual feast, and the author of Is 65* refers to Babylon as the land where incense is offered on bricks. It was burned as a ritual accompaniment of incantations, prayers, and the presentation of oracles, and also at the yearly mourning for Tammuz, with which was combined a memorial of the dead, who are said to 'arise and inhale the incense of offerings,' as well as at funeral rites.' It was also used as a fnmigatory, e.g. of the gods' table and its accessaries and the place whither the gods were supposed to come, of houses, and of persons.*

Evidence of the popularity of incense-offerings among the peoples of Canaan and the surrounding districts is found in the fact that it is the most commonly denounced form of idolatry in Israel. Incense was ottered on altars of brick or on the housetops to Baal, the sun, moon, stars, etc.' Lueian describes the sweet odours and the incense smoking without ceasing in the temples of the Syrian goddess.

(e) Although in the OT the Hebrew use of incense seems to be early, this is due to the rendering of the word k'tOreth as ' incense,' when, strictly speaking, it mean." the savoury odour or smoke of a burnt sacrifice.' The word translated 'frankincense' is I'bhOnah, \lparos, Arab, lubdn, meaning a sweet resinous gum, and incense in this sense was not certainly used until the 7th century.8 $'(6reth also came to mean 'incense.'* Ezekiel makes no reference to incense in his description of the reformed ritual. The first distinct reference to its use in the cult of Jahweh iB in Jer 6"> 'To what purpose cometh there to me frankincense from SheDa, and the sweet cane [calamus] from a far country.!' Cf. 17" 41* and Is43as-S4 60° 66s—the latter passages show that it was not required, and was an innovation in the cult of Jahweh and was expensive. Once admitted, however, it came to be a regular part of the ritual, and is frequently referred to in the Priestly Code (P). Incense was offered either (1) by itself, or (2) as a part of other sacrifices. (1) It was ottered in censers, e.g. on the Day of Atonement when the high priest appeared before the mercy-seat;10 or when Aaron passed through the congregation to stay the plague with his censer and incense (an atonement and fumigation). u The incense used in these rites was carefully compounded according to a set formula,19 and was obviously regarded as sacred—' most holy' and not to be used for common purposes. It must not be consumed on 'strange fire,' i.e. fire from some other source than the glowing altar coals,1* and it 1 Jastrow, Hel. of Bab. and Assyria, Boston, 18DS, p. 603. > Jutrow, p. 666; K. Delitxsch, Auyr. HWB, Leipzig, 1896, p. 600. • L 4
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

must not be offered by any but the priests.1 Probably as a later custom a separate altar on which this incense was burned came into use, and on it incense was burned morning and evening.' (2) Frankincense {i.e. not the compounded incense of Ex 30") was offered with the meat-offering,' and firstfruit*,4 and burned with them on the altar. It was also placed on the shewbread as a ' memorial,' 'azk&rdh, in two golden vessels and then consumed on the altar at each weekly renewal of the bread.* But it was not to be offered with a sin-offering or with the ' meal offering of jealousy.'*

In later times the daily offering of incense became an elaborate ceremony, and priests were chosen by lot to offer it.'

(d) In Egypt the burning of various kinds of incense was always an important rite, each ingredient of it having magical properties, and, as has been seen, its smoke was supposed to cany the words of prayer as well as the souls of the dead to heaven. Prayer was made, e.g., to Ra, that he would draw the soul up to heaven on the smoke of the incense. Probably the earliest reference to the use of in cense in any religion occurs in the notice of Sanchkara, a king of the Xlth dynasty, who sent an expedition for aromatics through the desert to the Red Sea towards the incense land of Punt. Hatsepsu, a queen of the XVIIIth dynasty, also sent an expedition by sea thither. Punt is probably Hadramaut and Somaliland.' Incense was also obtained from Gilead.' A common representation on the walls of temples is that of a king offering incense. He holds a censer in one hand and with the other throws little balls or pastilles of incense upon it, praying the god to accept it and give him a long life. Immense quantities of incense are often spoken of as having been offered, e.g. 1000 censers, or, as an inscription referring to Barneses III. reports, 1,933,766 pieces of incense, eto., during the 31 years of his reign.14 It was ottered to all the gods, who delighted in its odour, their statues being censed with it and perfumed. Often it accompanied other offerings, greater or smaller—e.g., frankincense, myrrh, and other perfumes were placed in the carcass of the bullock ottered to Isis11—or was presented by itself, as described above. The censer was an open cup holding fire, with or without a handle, but other forms were also used.1' At funerary rites the deceased was purified with incense. Five grains were twice offered to mouth, eyes, and hand, once for the north and once for the south; then incense from foreign parts was similarly offered, along with the litany of purification. Nlyrrh, resin, etc., but not frankincense, were placed in the body which was embalmed.u

(e) Incense, in the sense of a gum resin, does not seem to have been used in Greece until postHomeric times, and Pliny says that people knew only the smell of cedar and citrus as it arose in volumes of smoke from the sacrifice.14 The idea of a fragrant odour, e.g. of sacrifice, being pleasant to the gods was well known.1* The wood of odoriferous trees, e.g. a kind of cedar (to 8vov),a as well as myrtle was burned in houses for its fragrant smell. In Homer17 dim probably means no more than the burning of such wood or some native pro

iNo 16TM-, 2CI1261W

• Ex 801- 7- s a secondary part ol P.

I Lv 21 6i». * Lv 2«'-.

s Lv 24»»-; Jos. Ant. m. x. 7. « Lv 6", Na 61*.

7Lk 1»10; jy/K col. 2167.

s Schroder, HeaUex., t.v.'Welhrauch.'

» On 87*>.

w J. G. Wilkinson, J/annersand Customs of Ane. Egyptians, London, 1878, iil. 414, 417; A. Erman, Xgypten una dyypt.
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

duct as an offering, or it may simply mean 'sacrifice.' Later it came to mean 'incense,' and was the source of Lat. tus. The word for 'frankincense,' \ipavw6s, was of foreign derivation. Incense as such was not used before the 8th cent. B.C.,1 and is first mentioned in Euripides.' Schrader is of opinion that it may have Tbeen introduced through the cult of Aphrodite, and it was certainly traditionally thought to have come from Phoenicia via Cyprus, where it was used in her cult.' It was brought into Greece commercially from Arabia, and imported thence by Phoenicians.4 Incense was burned with bloody sacrifices as an offering or to combat evil odours,* or with fruits, cakes, wheat, etc.,' or as a separate offering, both in domestic ritual and in the cult of the gods; e.g., it was burnt to Zeus Meilichios, to Demeter before consulting the oracle at Patra, and to Hermes and Sosipolis.7 The inventory lists of some temples contain evidence of the large quantities which came to be used, and it was sometimes given as a gift by one person to another.8 Incense of different kinds was also used largely in the Orphic cult, as the hymns show. It was offered along with cakes of honey, rAwoc, without being burned, in the rites of certain divinities.' The method of burning incense was to throw it on the altar so as to mingle with the smell of the victim, or to fill the victim with it,10 or to burn it in braziers standing on or near the altar, or even outside temples, or in vessels which could be borne on the hand.

(f) In Roman religion, incense (tus) was one of the most important of the bloodless offerings (libamina), and indeed without it no rite was regarded as com

Elete. But, as in Greece, odoriferous woods and erbs had probably been used first, as described by Ovid in his account of the Palilia"—olive, pitchwood, laurel branches, and Sabine herbs.1* Gums and resins came to be used—frankincense (masculum tus),1* myrrh, crocus, costum." In the case of animal sacrifices, incense, saffron, and laurel were burned as a preliminary, and, as the animal was led up, incense and wine were sprinkled on the altar. It was also offered with the blood, and burned with the exta.u Incense was also offered by itself in public or private ritual; and this is illustrated by the fact that one method of forcing a renunciation of Christianity was to burn some incense on an altar before an image or to the Emperor. Incense was offered to the lar familiaris daily.1' The method of using it was to burn it on the greater altars, or in braziers, or small portable altars [focus, turibulum). It was carried in a casket called acerra (much used in funerary ceremonies), whence it was taken and burned.17 It was also offered for the averting of prodigies e. 296 B.C.,18 and burned in magical ceremonies.1* The introduction of incense into the cult was connected with Bacchus, the first to make offerings of cinnamon and frankincense30—an obvious suggestion of

I Farnell uses this as an argument against the likelihood of Hesopotaniian influences affecting Greece In earlier periods (Greece and Bab., Edinburgh, 1911, p. 232L\

a Bacch. 144.

'Athenams, zii. 10; Hesychius, s.v. ftfa.

* Herod, ii. 8, iii. 107 (the trees are said to be guarded by winged serpents).

» Paus. ix. 3. 8; Daremberg-Saglio, rv. ii. 964a. 'Paus. v. xv. 10, Vl xx. 3.

7 Paus. v. xv. 10, VL xx. 8, vn. xxi. 12, xxii. S: Luclan, do Saer. 12; Plaut. Aul. 24.

• Boeckh, CIG 2852, 6773; Lucian, Cronosolon, 16.

9 L. F. A. Maury, Hist, dtt religion* ds la Grice ant., Paris, 1857-69, ii. 116. 1° Paus. ra. iii. 8.

II Fasti, iv. 741 f.; cf. L 338 ff.

i» For the burning of laurel in a magrical ceremony, see Verg. Eel. vili. 82 f.; cf. Theocr. Id. ii. 33. « Verg. Eel. viii. 65. "Fasti, i. 839 ft

« lb. IV. 933 ff. ; Arnobius, vii. 26. 1" Plaut. Aul. prol. 23 f.

« Verg. jEn. v. 745. is Livy, x. 23.

l» Verg. Eel. viii. 65. *> Fasti, iii. 727.

its entrance into Roman ritual through the Greek cult of Dionysos. Elsewhere OvidJ speaks of its importation from the Euphrates region, perhaps connecting it with the Oriental cults which introduced it into Greece.

(ff) Hindus have always been fond of pleasant odours, and India was already celebrated for its perfumes in ancient times. Incense from Arabia was early imported there, but many native kinds of sweet-smelling materials have long been in use— benzoin, and other gum resins, seeds, roots, dried flowers, and fragrant woods. These are burned ritually or in ordinary domestic usage. In ancient times sandal-wood was burned as incense in temples and as a fragrant stuff in houses, and in the daily rites the sacred fire was fed with consecrated wood, usually from the Palasa tree.' In modern Hinduism the use of incense is wide-spread in all forms of cult. Thus in the cult of Siva it is daily burned by the priest before the stone representing the god at Orissa, and perfumes are also placed on it. In the Vallabha sect of Vaisnavism the Maharajas offer incense and swing lights before the images, and the same act of homage is paid to them by the people. Camphor and incense are burned before the image of Krsna, and in the demon cults of Western India perfumes are commonly burned. In the PaRchayatana ceremony of the Brahman householder perfumes and flowers ore offered, and among the sixteen acts of homage is the offering of perfumes, sandal, flowers, and incense (dhupa; see Monier Williams, passim).

(h) Incense was unknown in early Buddhism, which was opposed to external ritual, but in the course of time its use, especially in northern Buddhism, has become general. Thus, in Ceylon, perfumes and flowers are offered before the image of Buddha, and in thePirit ceremonial incense is burned round the platform on which the relics of Buddha are exposed.' But it is in Tibet that the use of incense is most prevalent, and Hue and other travellers there have referred to the likeness of its ritual use and of the censers to that of the Roman Catholic Church. It is used in the initiation of a monk; it is offered to the good spirits and Lamas in the daily cult of the monasteries and of the village priesthoods; it is one of the usual offerings in the temples, and is prominent in the festivals at which 'clouds of incense fill the air'; it is used in exorcisms, in baptisms, and other ceremonies; it is burned in censers before the Lamas at the performance of religious dramas, or in shrines and chapels, etc. Perfumes and incense form one of the five sensuous offerings, and figure prominently in the ' presentation of offerings, which is one of the seven stages of worship. These seven offerings are 'essential,' and among them flowers and incense occur as early as the 7th century. They bear Sanskrit names, and are borrowed from Hinduism.4 In Japanese Buddhism, incense is also commonly used, and has influenced the native Shinto religion. In earlier Shintoism incense was unknown, but it is now burned in censers at many ceremonies, e.g. at the new moon, and at magical rites.6

(i) In China, incense is much used in public and private cults. It is offered in the temples as part of the daily worship, and it is burned at festivals and in processions. It is also offered before the ancestral tablets or before the household deities, and is used in consulting the gods and in magical

1 Faiti, i. 338.

a C. Lassen, Ind. Alterthumskunde*, Leipzig, 1868-74, i. 834 f.; M. Monier Williams, Rel. Thought and Life in India, London, 1883, p. 366.

» Monier Williams, Buddhism, London, 1889, pp. 316, 319. < Monier Williams, pp. 329, 345, 350, 357; L. A. Waddell, Tht Buddhism of Tibet, London, 1895, passim. 5 W. G. Aston, Shinto, London, 1905, pp. 213, 292, 354.

ceremonies. Chinese Buddhism also used it extensively.1 In Chinese funeral ceremonies the burning of incense plays an important part, both as an offering and as a f umigatory, and one purpose is to gratify the olfactory nerves of the soul of the deceased.1

if i In the ancient Persian religion incense was in nee. It was burned fire times daily in the official cult, and at times was used in large quantities. Herodotus5 describes Darius burning 300 talents of frankincense upon the altar. It was also burned as a method of purification or fumigation, and in a passage of the Vendidad * it is called 'incense of mhugaona'—'Thou shalt perfume Vohu-mano [perhaps an idol; see above, p. 153s] therewith.'* Sandal wood and incense are burned in modern Parsi ritual.' The Bahman-YaH 7 describes how, in the 'sheep period,' firewood and incense will be properly supplied.

(*) Incense was very largely used in the religion of ancient Mexico, and was offered to all the gods, and in all festivals, processions, and sacrifices. Incense-burning was performed four times daily in the temples. Images of gods were censed in the temples and in processions, and the chief officiant was also himself censed. Some gods desired only bloodless sacrifices, of which incense was one, e.g. Quetzalcoatl, who delighted in fragrant odours and perfumes. The incense was carried in an embroidered bag and thrown on an open censer [tmaUl) of baked clay containing fire. It consisted of copal, or it was sometimes made from a herb called yiauhtli. Its fumes were of a narcotic kind and were also used to stupefy human victims. The fumesof incense were regarded as typifying prayer.* Incense consisting of sweet-scented gums was used in Peruvian ritual and offered as a sacrifice. Golden censers or braziers stood in the temples.*

(f) In Muhammadan cultus proper, incense is not used, but it is commonly offered at the shrines of saints, and is permitted by the traditions as a perfume for a corpse. Muhammadans in India, possibly as an influence from Hinduism, use it in their rites, e.g. circumcision, marriage, funerals, etc, and it is supposed to have the effect of keeping off evil spirits. But among all Muhammadans it is burned in houses on braziers, or at marriage processions it is burned in a mibkharah, and it is also commonly used in magical ceremonies, e.g. to counteract the evil eye, or in the 'science' of da'wah, a method of incantations in which various perfumes are burned according to a table showing the letters of the alphabet. The letter of the name of the person for whom the incantation is made gives the required perfume. The materials used tor incense are frankincense, benzoin, storaz, coriander-seed, aloes-wood, etc.10

4. Incense in the Christian Church.—Although incense was used in Jewish ceremonial, while such a prophecy as Mai lu might seem to point to its continued use in the new dispensation, and though it was one of the offerings of the Magi and its use is referred to in the Apocalypse, there is no evidence that it was part of early church ritual; indeed there is strong evidence against it. Some of the Fathers refer to it as a type of prayer; but Tertullian, Athenagoras, Arnobius, ana Lactantius clearly witness against its ritual use.

1 J. Doolittle, Social Lift of the Chinese, London, 1866, passim.

» 3. J. 1L da Groot, op. tit. i. pasrim.

>vL97. ->xix. 24.

■ Fend, xix. 24 ; cf. Hang, pp. 835 L, 386.

« Hsu(f, 404, 408.

'iii. 48; cf. SBE r. (1880] 230.

< Bancroft, KB iii. chs. 7-10, passim.

• W. H. Prescott, Hist. of Conquest of Pern, 1870, pp. 47, 80; A. Rerille, Saline Religions 0/ Mexico and Peru, London, 1884,

p.518.

19 See E. W. Lane, Mod. Egyptians, London, 1846, i. 186, 217, li. 71,93, iiL 154; Hughes, Dli, 72ff., 206.

Tertullian1 says: 'Not one pennyworth of incense do I offer Him.' Athenagoras 2 declares that God does not require the sweet smell of flowers or incense. Arnobius,3 referring to the fact that the early Romans did not use it, maintains that Christians may safely neglect it. Lactantius4 says that odours are not desired by God, and a{p*ees with Neo-Platoniat writers that frankincense and the like should not be offered to Him.

The fact that it was a Jewish usage may have tended to make Christians neglect it, but what had probably a more powerful effect was its use among pagans and the common practice during the ages of persecution of insisting that Christians should offer a few grains of incense to the gods or on the altar of the Emperor as a token of their renunciation of their faith. Such apostates as yielded in this way during the Decian persecutions were called Thurificati. Incense was, however, used for fumigations as a sanitary precaution, e.g. at burials or in places with a disagreeable odour; * but otherwise its ritual use was almost unknown during the first four centuries. The Apostolic Canons refer to the use of incense (Bupiaita) at the Eucharist, but this is probably a later interpolation. It was used at the vigil offices on Sunday in Jerusalem towards the end of the 4th century.* Pseudo-Dion vsius' speaks of the priest censing the altar and making the circuit of the holy place. In the Liturgy of St. James it is used in the pro- and post-Anaphora portions, and in that of St. Mark before the gospel, at the great entrance, at the kiss of peace, and at the commemoration of the dead. In the Liturgy of St. Cbrysostom the sacred vessels, the Gospels, altar, priest, and sanctuary are censed in the pro-Anaphora, and the altar is censed in the Anaphora. Evagrius* refers to the gift of a thurible to a church in Antioch by a Persian king c. 594. In the West the Ordines of the 8th cent, describe the swinging of the censer during the procession of the pontiff and his acolytes from the sacristy to the altar in the church at Rome. 'As for censing the altar, or the church, or the clergy or congregation, such a thing is never mentioned.'9 The further use of incense was gradual, since it is not mentioned by writers of this period who treat of ritual, and its use at the elevation and benediction was not known in the West till the 14th century. In the Roman Catholic Church at the present time incense is burned at solemn Mass before the introit, at the gospel, offertory, and elevation, at solemn blessings, processions, choral offices, consecration of churches, burial rites, etc. In the Church of England there is no decisive evidence of its ritual use in Divine service during the period after the Reformation. It was used, however, for sanitary purposes, as a fumigatory, and for tho sake of its agreeable odour in churches, at feasts, at coronations, etc. Its ritual use was resumed towards the middle of the 19th cent., but this was decided to be illegal in Martin v. Mackonochie, 1868, and in Sumner v. Wix, 1870.10 Incense is used ritually in many churches of the Anglican communion, and the practice is certainly spreading as a pleasing adjunct to worship, and as a symbolic rite typifying prayer.

LrrsRiTCBB. — H. von Fritze, Die Rauchopftr bei den Griecken, Berlin, 1894; Pliny, UN xii. SOU., xiv. 33ff.; O. Schrader, Itealltxikon, Strassburg, 1901, s.v. 'Weihrauch'; Theophrastus, de Odoribus; H. Zwaardemaker, Die Physiologie des Geruchs, Leipzig, 1896; E. G. C. F. Atchley, Hist, of Vie Use of Incense in Divine Worship, London, 1909; R. Sigismund, Die Aromata in ihrer Bedeutung Jut Religion... des Alterthums, Leipzig, 1884. Cf. also the authorities cited in the footnotes of the present article.