SUBSTANCES USED AS INCENSE IN THE EAST. By W. Dymock, Brigade-Surgeon, Retired. (Read before the Bombay Natural History Society on 1st July, 1891.)

 Incense smoke Aarti, Ganges, Varanasi.

SUBSTANCES USED AS INCENSE IN THE EAST. By W. Dymock, Brigade-Surgeon, Retired. (Read before the Bombay Natural History Society on 1st July, 1891.)

Incensation or sacrifice is the chief element of all the ancient religions, and the most primitive form of it was the sacrifice of human beings; children offered to Moloch or Baal, captives burnt by the ancient Greeks and Gauls, the Merieh sacrifice of the Khonds, and the sacrificial cakes of Peru soaked in human blood. Primitive man offered what ho thought would be most acceptable to his deity, in si more civilized condition ho substituted burnt offerings of animals for human sacrifices; to these he added perfumes, and lastly the fire and perfumes only remained as the symbol of sacrifice.

In the Book of Genesis (8, 20) we are distinctly told that burnt offerings of animals were made, and that " the Lord smelled a sweet savour." In Exodus (30, 31) Moses is directed to take sweet spices stacte, onycha, and galbanuin, with pure frankincense for use as incense in the tabernacle. In India, animal incense, in the form of ghi or clarified butter, is still used by the Hindus in the H6m sacrifice, and in the arthi or incensation of idols and important personages, such as the bridegroom by the bride.

Incense burning is all that remains as a symbol of sacrifice in the Christian Church, and is used at the daily sacrifice of the Eucharist. Among the Parsees fire is considered to be the son of Hormuzd, and to act as a mediator between the faithful and the divine being. Sacrifices of bread, meat, and the juice of the Homa plant are made.

Among the ancient Arabs fire alone appears to have been used in sacrifice, and also fire upon which salt was sprinkled.

What was the practice of these two ancient nations in pre-historic times we do not know, but we may infer that it was similar to that of uncivilized man elsewhere.

The principal plants which furnish the incenses used in the East are: —

Ailantus malabarica, D. C, which yields the Baga-dhup incense of Canara.

Boswellia, several species growing in Arabia and Africa which yield Olibanum or Frankincense.

Boswellia serrata, Roxb., growing in India and yielding the •Guggalu of Sanskrit writers.

Aquilaria Agallocha, Roxb., and A. moluccana, Lamk., yielding Aloes or Eagle-wood.

Styrax Benzoin, Dryander, yielding Benzoin or Benjamin,

Styraz officinalis, Linn., yielding the bark sold as Usturak in the bazars.

.....' Liguidamber erientalis, Miller, yielding Liquid storax, the Silaras

of the bazars.

Dorema Ammoniacum, Don, yielding the root sold as Boi in the bazars.

Saussurea Lappa, Clarke, yielding Gostus or Kust, best known in Bombay as Upalet.

Santalum album, Linn., yielding Sandal-wood.
Laurus Camphora, Linn., yielding Camphor.

Dryobalanopt Aromaticat Gartn., yielding Borneo camphor, the Barai or Bhimseni-kapur of the bnzars.

Ginnamomum, several species, yielding Cassia and Cinnamon.

Cedrus Deodara, Lond., yielding the Deodar-wood of the bazars.

Pinus hngifolia, Roxb., yielding Sarala-drava.

Jurinea macrocephala, Benth., yielding a root which is used as incense under the name of Dhupa at Rampur and elsewhere in Northern India.

Juniperus communis, Linn., /. recurva, Ham., and J. macropoda, Boiss., "yielding Jimiper-wood and resin, used as Dhupa in Northern India.

Oupressus tornlosa, Don, the Himalayan Cypress, the wood and resin of which is burnt as incense in the Hindu temples of the North.

Morina GouUeriana, Royle, which furnishes a root used as incense in Kashmir.

Balsamodendron, several species, yielding Myrrh and Bdellium. Shorea robusta, Gartn., yielding the Rdla or Dhuna of the bazars. Shorea Talura, Roxb., yielding the Sambrdni incense of the Wynaad.

Ganarium bengalense, Roxb., yielding the Gokaldhup incense of the Lepchas in Sikkim.

Vateria indiia, Linn., yielding the Vellai-kingiliyam incense of Southern India.

Ferula galbanifiua, Boiss. et Buhse, yielding Galbanum used as incense by the Jews.

The Baga-dhup of Canara is a fragrant resin of the colour of the glass used for making Hock bottles, it is used in Malabar by the Saraswat Brahmins as a substitute for the Sarala or oleo-resin of the Himalayan Pinas longifolia.

It is hardly necessary to say much about frankincense as it is so well known, but it is curious that the botanical source of a substance, which is one of the oldest articles of commerce, has only been ascertained within the last 50 years. The Book of Exodus, and the recent discoveries of Prof. Diimichen of Strassbourg in the temple of Dayr el Behri in Upper Egypt, shew that it was a well known article of commerce 1700 years before the Christian era, and one of the inscriptions at the temple states that thirty-one of the trees producing it were brought to Egypt from the land of Punt (the Somali coast) as an offering to the god Ammon. The name which frankincense bears in the East is of Semitic origin and signifies " milk," from the juice being milky when it first exudes from the tree; in Hebrew it is Lebonah and in Arabic Luban, the latter word being in use among the Musalmans of India. The Hindus call it Visexha. Formerly this gum-resin was supposed to be obtained from a kind of Juniper, until Colebrooke in the 11th Vol. of the Asiatic Researches described the Boswellia serrata of Roxburgh growing in India, and erroneously supposed that he had discovered the source of the commercial article. This mistake was not corrected until Carter, in 1846, brought specimens of the true Olibanum plant from Ras Fartak on the S.-E. coast of Arabia (Journ.,By. Br., El. As. Soc, II. (1848,380) tab. 23). Lastly Birdwood, in a monograph (1870), described some specimens of the Olibanum tree from the African coast, also Carter's plant which was still growing in Bombay (Linn. Trans., XXVII. 111-148).

It is probable that this incense was brought to India in pre-historic times by Arab traders, and we know that Alexander, B. C. 325, found a vessel loaded with it at the mouth of the Indus. The bark of the frankincense tree, called by the Arabs Kishar—kundar or Kashfa, forms a separate article of trade, which is known in India as Dhtipa or inconse. Frankincense is more generally used than anyother kind of incense, and together with benzoin, storax, myrrh, and eauearilla bark forms the incense now in use in Europe.

The exudation of the Indian olibanum tree appears to have been formerly used in this country, under the name of Quggalu, as an incense to a considerable extent; but, owing to the facilities for communication which are now afforded, it has been ousted by the commercial article, and is no longer collected. It differs from true olibanum in containing a much larger proportion of gum, and therefore does not burn so well, and is less fragrant. When collected by cutting the trees in the cold weather, it is a semi-fluid substance like Canada-balsam, but the specimen I now show of the natural exudation collected in May last bears a considerable resemblance to commercial olibanum of inferior quality.

Aloe or Eagle wood.—The use of this precious wood as a perfume and incense is of great antiquity. Together with myrrh, cassia, and other products of the East it is mentioned in the sacred writings of the Jews (Num., xxiv. 6; Psalms, xlv. 8; Prov. vii. 1 7; Cantic. iv. 14) under the name of Ahalot or Ahalim. It is the Agallochon of the ancient Greeks which is described by Dioscorides as a wood brought from India and Arabia. Later writers from ^Etius' time call it Zulaloe or "aloe wood," the name by which it is still known in Europe. The same substance is the Agaru of the Hindus, the Garu of the Malays, and the Chin-heang of the Chinese. In Sanskrit medical works it bears the synonyms of Rdjdrha, "worthy of a prince''; Visva-rvpa, "taking all forms"; Krimi-ja, "produced by worms"; A narya-ja, "produced in a non-aryan country" ; Kanaka, " golden"; lialiya, "black," &c. As aloe wood bears the Sanskrit name of Anarya-ja, it is probable that it was used by the aborigines of Eastern Asia before it became known to the Hindus, but that at a very early date it was carried overland to Central Asia, India, and Persia, and from thence reached Arabia and Europe. The early Arab travellers appear to have collected a good deal of information concerning the commerce and sources of supply of the wood. Yohanna bin Serapion mentions four kinds—Hindi, Mandali, Sainfi, and Kamari; and Ibn Sma, after enumerating a number of varieties of the commercial article, remarks, " the tree is said to be buried to promote the formation of aloe wood." This we now know to be correct. Ibn Batuta speaks of Kamari aloe wood as soft like wax. Aba Zaid calls it Kdmaruni, and says it is the best kind. Abulfeda states that Ood comes from the Kamarun mountains. The Kamarun of the Arabs is what we know as Cape Comorin, which they considered to divide the country and seas of India from the country and seas of China. The former region was also called by them Bddd-el-fulful or filfil, "the pepper country," and the latter Beldd-el-ndr, "the fire or incense country." Other names applied to different qualities of aloe wood were Kakuli or Jawi, "coming from Java or from Kakuleh," a place in Java; Saimuri, "coming from Saimur or Samar," an island in the Eastern Archipelago; and Mawardi, "smelling like rose water." The term Sinfi or Sainfi is probably derived from Champa, a province in Cambodia, and Mandali from Mount Mandar or Mandal, south of the modern town of Bhagalpur. Haji Zein el Attar (1368) calls aloe wood Ood-el-juj, from Juj or Juju, the name of a town in Cathay. After translating Ibn Sina's article on Ood, he gives his own opinion in the following terms:—" The author of this work (Ikbtiarat) says the best is called Kalambak and comes from the port of Jena, which is ten days' sail from Java. It is sold for its weight in gold. You would think it odourless, but when warmed in the hand it has a very sweet persistent odour • when burnt the odour is uniformly sweet until the wood is consumed. Next is Mandali and Samanduri, both from Sofala in India. The best of these is of a golden colour and heavy. Kakuli is like the Indian, and is generally in large pieces marked with black and yellow lines; then there is Kamari, golden brown, without streaks; it comes from the Kamarun country, and Sainfi from Samf, it is hard and sweet; then Sakili and Afdsi, a moist kind from China; then Mantai, Bandi, Halai, and Laufi, all of about equal value. And in Manta (Southern China) there is a tribe who call the wood Ashbdh, and it is of two kinds: one of these is in large pieces weighing from 5 to 50 maunds, without much odour, and used for making combs, knife-handles, &c. It must not be supposed that all these names indicate so many varieties of wood ; they appear to have been simply trade terms originating from accidental circumstances: for instance, it appears that the name Halai arose from the wood being brought to the West over the Hala mountains in Sind by Multani merchants."

Kumphius describes two kinds of true and two of false aloe wood. The first kind of true aloe wood, he says, is called KiUm or Ho-kilam by the Chinese and Calambac by the Malays, and is produced by a tree growing in the provinces of Champa and Coinam, and in Cochin China. (This tree has been described by Loureiro under the name of Alocxylon Agallochum, but it is unknown to modern botanists.) The second kind, called Oaro, is the product of A. malaceennis, Lamk., which he figures : this is the Chin-heang of the Pun-tmou-kong-muh, or great Chinese Herbal.

Modern investigation has shown that aloe wood (a corruption of the Arabic Al-aod, or "the wood par excellence "), is obtained from two species of AquUaria growing in Sylhet and extending, through Manipur, Chittagong and Arakan, to Mergui and Sumatra. It first reached Europe through China and Northern Asia or through India, but when the early Arab navigators found their way to China, the route was gradually changed. The collection of the wood in Sylhet, where the tree was found by Roxburgh, has been described, and confirms much of what has been said by the early Mahometan writers above quoted. It appears that the trees are felled, and afterwards searched to find the pieces of dark-coloured resinous agar which occur here and there in the naturally soft white wood of the trunk and branches. The blackest and heaviest portion, which is known as gharki, because it sinks in water, is worth in Sylhet from six to eight rupees per pound. From tha specimens on the table you will see how very limited the resinous infiltration often is.

At the present day aloe wood is imported into Bombay from Bankok, usually via Singapore or Batavia. Some of the Parsee silkmerchants also import it from Hong-kong. Only two kinds are known—Muwardi and Gaguli; the first appears to be the produce of A. malaccensis, and the second that of the Indian A. Agallocha,

There are several kinds of false aloe wood in the market; the most important of these is Taggar, a wood from Africa or Madagascar, of which I show you a specimen.

Aloe wood is now hardly known in Europe, but in former times the most expensive perfumes were sought for to be used as incense Pliny animadverts strongly (Books 12 and 13) upon the extravagance of the Romans in this respect, especially at funerals, and contrasts it with the simplicity of the Greeks at the time of the Trojan War, when incense was not used in sacrificing to the gods, but only the indigenous juniper and citrus wood necessary to burn the animals.

Benzoin, the Luban-Jawi, or Java frankincense of the Arabs, which they began to bring from the Belud-el-nur, or "incense country," about the middle of the fourteenth century, was not known to the ancient Hindus or to the inhabitants of Europe; but they used a somewhat similar substance obtained from Styrax officinalis, which is now no longer an article of commerce, though the bark is still used as incense, and appears occasionally in the Indian bazars under the name of JJsturah. Benzoin appears to have rapidly gained the favour of the users of incense both in the East and in the West. It is used all over India. Bombay imports annually about 6,000 cwts., and large quantities go to Europe, where it is used as an ingredient of the incenses used in the Greek and Roman churches. The modern storax of commerce was introduced in the sixth century apparently to replace the original storax, the source of supply of which had become insufficient to meet the demands of commerce, which were very considerable both in Europe and in the East. We learn from the author of the "Periplus of the Erythrean Sea" that as long ago as the first century, Silhaka (storax) was exported to India, and about this time it is mentioned as one of the imports of Thana, on the Western Coast. The Arabs also carried it to China, and it appears to have been known in the Indian vernaculars as Ast-lohan, "Western frankincense." Upon the decline of the port of Thana the trade was transferred to Surat, then to Goa, and afterwards to Bombay, which still imports from 300 to 400 cwts. yearly. Storax is an ingredient in European incense. In the trade statistics of the early European traders in India it is called Rosa Mallas and Rose Malloes, a name which it still retains, and the origin of which is doubtful, though some suppose it to be derived from Rosamdla, the Malay name for Altingia excelsa, a tree which produces an odoriferous resin in Java and Burma. That the latter supposition is incorrect I think there can be little doubt, as the only Rose Malloes known in Bombay is the European storax; the name appears to have been applied to it incorrectly through a confusion of this substance with the honey or manna collected from trees, the Spvao/uXi of the Greeks, and the Ros melleus of the middle ages. The author of the Makhzan-el-Adwiya says :—" Basimilius is a Greek name for a kind of incense called in Arabic Bukhanel~daru and in Hindi Ast lob&n. In another place, speaking of Baru, he says that its Greek name is Fazugus. Zugos (£vyos) is the modern Greek for the storax tree (Liquidamber orientalis).

Ammoniacum root, the Boi of the Parsees, is regularly imported into Bombay for use in Parsee ritual as an incense. It is popularly spoken of as a wood, and is traditionally understood to be one of the fragrant woods mentioned in the Avesta. It is remarkable that before Persian ammoniacum was known in the west, the gum-resin of an Ammoniacum plant growing about Cyrene in Libya and in the neighbourhood of the temple of Ammon was used as an incense under the name of Thus Libycum, or "Libyan frankincense." The use of this substance appears to be now entirely confined to the Parsees.

Costm was one of the fragrant substances which the Arabs obtained from the Hindus and introduced into Europe to satisfy the ancient demand for perfumes to be burnt upon the altars of the gods and at funerals. They themselves considered it to be the best oj perfumes for fumigation. The Hindus and Chinese nsed this root for smoking as a narcotic before opium was known in the East, and it is still exported to China in enormous quantities, to be used as an incense. Baden-Powell says :—"In every Hong it is found; no mandarin will give an audience until the patched incense smokes before him; in every Joss-house it smoulders before the Tri-bndh deity; in every floating junk in the Chinese rivers, the only home of countless hordes, Budh's image is found, and the smoke of the patchak religiously wends its way heavenward." It is now hardly known in Europe, but the Arabs and Chinese esteem it as highly as ever as an incense, and the Hindus use it as a perfume and medicine.

Sandal wood must have been used in India from prehistoric times, as it is mentioned in the Nirukta, or writings of Yaska, the oldest Vedic commentary extant. It is principally consumed at the funeral piles of wealthy Hindus, and even comparatively poor people will expend as much as 40 to 50 rupees worth at a funeral. In China it is burnt as an incense, and the Parsees also burn it. There would appear to be no evidence of its ever having found much favour as an incense in the West, which is strange, as it was known to the Romans in the first century of our era. A false sandal wood is imported into Bombay from Zanzibar, of which I show you a sample: it is used as a substitute for the true article. Several kinds of false sandal are also in use in China.

Common camphor is used as an incense in India, especially in performing the arthi ceremony already mentioned; whilst the expensive Borneo camphor is largely used at the funeral rites of the Batta princes, whose families are often ruined by the lavish expense of providing the camphor and buffaloes which the custom of their obsequies requires. In Western India it is used in small quantities by the Jains, and costs from 80 to 100 rupees per maund.

The Cinnamon and Cassia of the ancients appears to have been used as incense, as we find Cassia turiana mentioned as a substance upon which duty was levied at the Roman custom-house at Alexandria, A.D. 176-80; and a thick kind of cinnamon bark, called Pisin-puttai or Pishoo-puttai in Tamil, is still used in India for this purpose. It has a delicious fragrance, but hardly any cinnamon flavour. Mr. Hooper informs me that it is ground to a powder, mixed with water, smeared on reeds, and dried. The reeds are burnt at Mahometan festivals. There is a thick variety of Cassia which fetches about 56 shillings a pound in China: possibly it may be the same article.

The wood of Cedrus Dcodara, the Deodar wood of the bazars, contains a large quantity of a very fragrant turpentine, and is much used all over India in making pastiles. Pinna longifolia is the Sarala of Sanskrit writers, who call the turpentine obtained from it Saraladrava; it does not resemble our turpentine, but has the colour and consistence of ghi. Popularly it is known as Ohir-pine oil or Gandha-biroja.

The roots of Jurinea macrocephala, a composite plant common in the Western Himalaya, are used locally as incense (dhupa). Dr. Stewart records that seven maunds from Bissahir were exposed for sale at the Rampur fair in 1867; and Dr. G. Watt saw the dhup being prepared from the roots in Rampur, and also higher up on the neighbouring hills, the plant being collected to be sent to Rampur. This substance is also said to be exported from Kashmir to Tibet for use as incense.

The wood, twigs, and resin of the Himalayan Junipers and of the Himalayan Cypress are used as incense in the Hindu temples of Northern India, and it is interesting to remember that the European species of these trees were used in the Trojan War in burning sacri6ces to the gods.

In Kashmir the root of Morina Coulteriana, belonging to the Dipsacece, is in local demand as an incense. It is said to be sometimes mixed with Costus for export.

Myrrh and Bdellium are chiefly used as incense in China, bat some European receipts for incense contain a little myrrh. The odour of bdellium when burnt is not agreeable, still it appears to have been used in Europe by the ancients, as Pliny states that its quality may be tested by its odour when burning. The refinements of civilization have greatly modified our appreciation of perfumes. In England three centuries ago our forefathers placed Valerian in their wardrobes and considered it an agreeable perfume; nowadays we should as soon think of keeping a polecat in our cupboards. In India, which has been stationary as regards refinement for the last three thousand years, Valerian is still used as a perfume for clothes, and is considered an agreeable addition to the hair douche. Bdellium has a decidedly musty odour, but Plautus in his "Curculio" uses it as a term of endearment: "Tu crocinumet cassia es, tu bdellium;" which may be freely translated, "You are a spicy darling." To his taste bdellium cannot have been musty. An idea of Solomon's taste in perfumes may be gathered from hi s Epithalamium: it would hardly meet with the approval of a modern bride.

The Rala or Dhuna of India is an interesting substance. I identify it with the Cancamum of the ancients. If we refer to Dioscorides, we find that he speaks of it as an Arabian gum, something like myrrh in appearance, used for fumigation on account of its fragrance and administered medicinally to reduce corpulence and to cure spleen, &c.; it was applied locally to remove opacities of the cornea and improve the sight, also to cure toothache; according to Paulun .
Galbanum, the Chelbenah of the Jews, was an ingredient of the incense used by the ancient Israelites (Exod., xxx. 34), and it is now used in the Irvingite churches in London. It is brought to Bombay from Persia and is known in the bazar as Jawdshir, an Arabic corruption of the Persian name Gaoshir, " cow's milk." Its odour is by no means agreeable, and when burnt decidedly offensive, so that it is difficult to understand its being used as an incense. In Persia it is used to keep evil spirits from the houses of parturient women, and the Greeks and Eomans*used it to drive away noxious animals. Virgil in his third Georgic, speaking of the diseases of sheep, says:—

"Disce et odoratam Btabulis aocendere cedrum,
Galbaneoqne agitare graves nidore chelydros."

( " Learn also to burn the fragrant Juniper in the folds, and to drive away the fetid Chelydrus with the fumes of galbanum.'')

We do not know exactly what the Chelydrus was. Nicander describes it as a kind of snake; some think it was a kind of tortoise; anyhow it was supposed to be injurious to the flock.

I will conclude by giving you a modern recipe for incense which appeared in a recent issue of the "Chemist and Druggist" newspaper :—

Olibanum 6 onnces.

Dry storax .. 3 „

Benzoin 3 „

Myrrh 1 ounce.

Cascarilla 1

Lavender flowers ... 2 ounces.
Powder coarsely and mix.