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​​Incense culture and Hong Kong

   Go Back to Song Dynasty (960-1279) of China, burning and tasting incense was already one of the four high class leisure activities (burning incense, drinking tea, arranging flowers and hanging painting) of the writers, scholars and calligrapher during that period.


At that time, Hong Kong and the place nearby has already planted with many Agarwood tree/Oud tree/ incense tree. During those day, the Agarwood/ Oud was transported from the mainland to Tsim Sha Tsui and used small boats to transported to Aberdeen and then transported to the Mainland China, Southeast Asia and even Arabian places. Therefore, Hong Kong is named as Hong (incense )Kong (Harbor), as a harbor to transport the agarwood /oud all over the world. According to the research, main ancient village would have the agarwood tree planted at the village Fengshui Garden. And thus, it is believed that Hong Kong not only a place to transport the agarwood but also a place to produce agarwood. However, during the beginning of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), in order to prevent the citizens connecting to the previous dynasty remaining military power, the Qing government forced those citizens lived near the southern sea to move into the inner area away from the sea for few hundred miles. Therefore, after that, the plantation and transportation of agarwood declined. After the WWII, because of the Communist China won the battle, as Communism not allowing people to have religion belief, many traditional incense band came from Canton area to Hong Kong and Macau. Therefore, before the 80's China Open Policy, Hong Kong is one of the biggest producer and exporter of traditional incense sticks to the Chinese Diasporas who lived in the Southeast Asia, also the incense making industry had become one of the main traditional industries in Hong Kong. After the 80's, because of the open policy of China, many incense factories move back to mainland China because of the cost of Hong Kong became higher and no youngsters willing to join this industry because of dirty working environment and low salaries. Also, because of the religious belief  is no longer important for the new generations, so the new generations have no interest to understand about traditional incense and thus will never buy incense. This caused that the traditional incense industries declined. In addition, many incense shop produced many low quality incense for better sales (as people for religious usage may not care about the smell, just care about offering something), the low quality incense is every where and makes general people have a bad stereotype about incense which bad smell and irritating eyes.

​As you now know about no matter in the ancient time or after war period, Hong Kong has never without incense. Incense is the origin of Hong Kong. Therefore, as a Hongkonger, we have the mission to safeguard and conserve this intangible culture heritage in Hong Kong, and let Hong Kong again become what it is named, the harbor of incense.

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