ILLUSTRATION: The Art of Making of Incense Sticks in Taiwan

How are the religious incense sticks made?

The News Lens
Date: 2017/08/26

In July, an Environment Protection Administration (EPA) initiative to reduce the use of incense and “ghost money” to minimize airborne pollutants has given rise to Internet rumors that the government plans to draft a new “religious associations act” and phase out the practice of burning incense.

As rumors spread that the government may ban the burning of incense, thousands of temple representatives and worshipers took to the streets, surrounding the Presidential Office in Taipei on July 23 to vent their dissatisfaction.

Lin Mao-hsien (林茂賢), an associate professor of Taiwanese languages and literature at National Taichung University of Education who specializes in folklore research, says “Through the rituals, people pray for good fortune and inner peace,” and “without doing so, people will feel unable to connect with the gods.”
Improving the quality of incense and ghost money so that they can be sold for better prices could be one solution to keeping the temple culture alive while promoting environmental protection, Lin suggested.

Whether to ban the incense sticks or not is for political debate but the making of these religious symbols is an art of its own, worthy of attention – from fragrant oils to spice powder, The News Lens walkthroughs the essential steps with these illustrations.

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