Joss Sticks

Traditionally made up of an assortment of aromatic plant materials applied to a bamboo stick, joss sticks, also known as incense sticks, are massively popular the world over and are used in spirituality, meditation, aromatherapy and enjoyment. Joss sticks originated in Asia many thousands of years ago and remain a massive part of the culture today, with the burning of incense a daily ritual in the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

Strictly speaking, joss sticks are any incense sticks, of any scent, shape or size, made with the intention of it being used for worship and prayers. This means that although some varieties are as small as six inches in length and a handful of millimeters wide, there are others that can be two foot long and inches thick. Many temples use coiled joss spirals, for their exceedingly long burn time. In areas like Taiwan and Singapore, massive dragon joss sticks are constructed and burned for certain festivals. These dragons can be several feet tall and generate so much heat and smoke that they can only be burned outside.

As odd as it may seem, the vast majority of Chinese joss sticks are unscented, often containing only the fainest hints of sandalwood, rose or jasmine. This is because it's the smoke, not the fragrance, which is important. The smoke of incense is believed to carry the prayers of the faithful to heaven. This is very different to Indian offerings, where beautiful and ancient scents like agarwood, jasmine, rose and sandalwood are burned for the enjoyment of the aspirants attention. In either case, incense offerings are often accompanied by flowers, fresh fruit and tea.


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