The use of incense dates back many centuries, probably to the biblical era and is likely to have originated in or around Egypt. Probaby initially used in religous ceremonies, but also used by the Pharoahs to mask unpleasant odours as well as thought to drive away demons and please their gods. Resins and gums from aromatic trees were imported from Somali and Arabian coasts.
Many historic civilisations have used incense over the years including, the Babylonians while offering prayers, the Indus Civilization via burners and there is evidence that it use then spread to the Greeks and Romans. Chinese Buddist monks took incense to Japan in the 6th Century for use in purification rites. Later on in the 14th century, the Shogunate samurai warriors used incense to perfume their helmets and armour to acheive an aura of invincibility. In the 15th and 16th centuries incense was more widely used amongst Japanese upper and middle classes.
Over the years many materials have been used when making incense. Traditionally incense production involved locally available materials and ingredients. Sage and Cedar were used by the North Americans for example. Trading in incense ingredients and materials was a major part of commerce along the trade routes, with one notably called the Incense Route. When it came to making incense, local knowledge and techniques generally influenced the styles and fragrances, but as migration of people grew this also had an effect on styles and tastes.
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