Fragrant Cloud - A "Goose Pear Tent" Incense
Quality Agarwood, Sandalwood, Osmanthus Flowers, Oud oil and other ingredients
(Please read the description to understand why this ingredient list is not complete)
Without a doubt, the most important ingredient in ancient Chinese Incense culture was Agarwood. Agarwood’s use was first recorded around 770BC but there is no reason to think that the use of Agarwood is not far older. Around 206 BC, the royals of the Han dynasty enthroned the prestigious status of incense and made it a practice of the elite. People scented their clothes with agarwood-based incense, scholars burned incense while writing and contemplating, and officials would not begin their duties without first incensing themselves and their room. Agarwood really came to even prominence under the Tang dynasty. At this time, incense and medicine were made with “white wood”, A type of Agarwood from the Southern Islands, including Hong Kong. It was already part of the tribute paid by the local population to the court. During the Tang and Song dynasties, different types of Agarwood were imported and agarwood was everywhere. women and men of the upper classes lived in clouds of incense and mists of perfume. People steamed agarwood with osmanthus, soaked it with rosewater, and layered it with jasmine. Agarwood was studied, graded and its scent debated. Like the present day, fine agarwood, filled with resin, was extremely expensive. One of my favorite accounts of this intense incense study concerns a noble who would burn one-note incense in his flower gardens and pair the incense ingredient with a flower such as aloeswood with bramble, musk with magnolia, and sandalwood with Champaca.
So, when I began my study and experiments with the “Goose Pear Tent” process of making incense, I had to come to grips with the fact that the inventors of the method, the emperor and empress of China during the last days of the Tang dynasty, would likely have used a much higher grade of agarwood than I could ever dream of possessing. For my first experiments, I used my little stash of medium-grade agarwood and the results were less than stellar. Over the years, I have been gifted tiny pieces of fine agarwood, small jars of agarwood incense blends infused with oud oil, and extremely-thin incense sticks of high-quality agarwood. I would use just a bit of these incenses to study the aroma and effects. Then I would put the remainder in a tightly sealed jar labeled “agarwood”. In the cause of incense study, I emptied the entire contents of my agarwood jar into one of my incense grinders and powdered it all. In a homage to past incense makers, I also powdered some osmanthus flowers and Indian sandalwood. Then I mixed everything together and let the powders sit overnight. The next morning, I was able to fill three quinces with the blend. It smelled lovely even before steaming. It was truly a divine “Fragrant Cloud” after being steamed three times in the Quinces, far beyond any of the results with my medium-grade agarwood. A result I would be proud to share with Li Hongii and Zhou Ehuang. “Fragrant Cloud” incense, is my attempt to travel back in time and share the breath of “Goose Pear Tent” incense with its creators. Never to be repeated again.
Wei Yingwu (Tang dynasty era)
ENTERTAINING LITERARY MEN IN MY OFFICIAL RESIDENCE ON A RAINY DAY
By Wei Yingwu (Tang dynasty era)
Outside are insignia, shown in state;
But here are sweet incense-clouds, quietly ours.
Wind and rain, coming in from sea,
Have cooled this pavilion above the lake
And driven the feverish heat away
From where my eminent guests are gathered. ...
Ashamed though I am of my high position
While people lead unhappy lives,
Let us reasonably banish care
And just be friends, enjoying nature.
Though we have to go without fish and meat,
There are fruits and vegetables aplenty. ...
We bow, we take our cups of wine,
We give our attention to beautiful poems.
When the mind is exalted, the body is lightened
And feels as if it could float in the wind. ...
Suzhou is famed as a centre of letters;
And all you writers, coming here,
Prove that the name of a great land
Is made by better things than wealth.
This price is for ten exquisite pellets in a beautiful Glass and Gold Vial.
From Katlyn -
This is a rare treat, an aromatic fruity agarwood delight that lingers on the heater for hours, love it. Be we need more!