The word incense comes from the Latin worn incendere, meaning ‘to burn’. The use of incense can be traced back to ancient Egypt where incense is depicted to have been used by priests for fumigating ceremonies and tombs. Egyptian graves have been discovered to contain traces of fragrant resins such as frankincense and myrrh. It is widely believed that Egyptians would have used incense to hinder the presence of demons and likewise as an offering to their gods during worship and ritual.
Incense history is synonymous with ritualism and spirituality. It’s believed to have been used in India and other parts southern Asia as early as 3300 BC, with the use of incense spreading to ancient China around 2000 BC where it was used for worship and prayer. India is now the world’s main producer of incense and the burning of incense has been a fundamental part of Hinduism for thousands of years.
The earliest documented evidence of the use of incense is in fact in ancient China, where it was made from blends of herbs and plants such as cinnamon and sandalwood, two fragrances that are still widely used in modern incense. It is even documented that buildings were designed and built specifically for the burning of incense in late 12th-century China.