History of Incense
By Stephanie Fairey
Incense has been around for many thousands of years. The oldest known references appear within the ancient Hindu texts, proving that use of Incense dates back at least 3500 years, and is probably closer to 8500.
Combustible fragrance was used by the ancient Egyptians, with resin balls being found in many prehistoric Egyptian tombs. At first, Incense was burnt to counteract bad smells, the byproduct of human habitation, and was then perceived to also deter demons and appease gods with its pleasant fragrance.
Around 2000 BC, the ancient Chinese were the first to begin using Incense in the religious sense; and usage reached its peak in the Song dynasty, when many structures were built to accommodate incense ceremonies. The Babylonians also used incense while offering up prayers to their Oracles. The use of Incense spread from there to Greece and Rome.
It was brought to Japan in the sixth century by Korean monks, who used the aromas in their rites of purification, and it became a source of entertainment in the Imperial Court, 200 years later. In 14th century Japan, a Samurai warrior might very well perfume his helmet and armour with incense to muster an aura of invincibility; it wasn't until the 15th and 16th centuries that appreciation of incense became popular in Japanese upper and middle classes.
Nowadays people use incense for many different purposes, from religious to domestic, and it's freely available worldwide. For very little cost, you can experience the pleasure for yourself.