iChongqing Title

Hi Chongqing: Seeking A Scent Worth More than Gold

By XIAO WU|Apr 24,2019

By Xiao Wu, video by Zhang Deng, Wang Yiling, iChongqing

Chongqing - Visitors to the Jiulong Agilawood Museum will be greeted by the fragrance of the incense wafting through the front door. Behind the glass window, the aged incense burners from different dynasties tell of the evolution of incense-use in China. A few steps further as to where we met the star of the day - agilawood. From the origin and types of agilawood to its extract and blending procedures, the museum offers a perfect chance to hear about the full story behind this precious wood.  

A Very Special Kind of Wood

As the saying goes, the scent of agilawood is pricier than gold. Agilawood has always been an expensive timber. It was extensively traded in the Middle East and Asia through the Silk Road. During ancient times, agilawood was used as a precious tribute to the royal families of China. Its heady scent has historical connections stretching through Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and Christianity.

Agilawood is created when an Aquilaria tree is damaged by mold. Due to the damage, the wood secretes a large amount of resin. After long years, the infected, dark, resinous agilawood comes into being. It’s this precious resin that has long been sought after.

The curator of the museum, Mr. Ling Kun, is a master of Chinese aroma doctrine. After analyzing over 300 ancient Chinese blending formulas, he has developed a complete blending formula system. The master invited us to sense the agilawood incense. More than we can expected, we also got the chance to make agilawood balls and incense sticks in a private chamber of the museum.

We were shocked at the sophisticated procedures involved in blending the incense and making them into the final product. Every step, such as weighing the different ingredients according to a specific formula, stirring them evenly with water and squeezing the incense mud, was carefully measured. A slight difference in the process will lead to a different final fragrance. Ling assured us that it is for the reason each batch of incense is completely unique.


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