Burning ambition for Lunar New Year
Bamboo, spices and richly colored powders help create incense sticks for the biggest day of the year
Lunar New Year
Incense sticks are placed on a wooden platform to dry at the Fujian Xingquan Incense Factory ahead of Lunar New Year.
Photo: AFP / Hector Retamal
Dozens of workers toil through the night coating thin lengths of bamboo in herbs, spices and richly colored powders to create incense sticks that are spread out under the rising sun to dry.
It is an important time of year for the villagers of Yongchun county, a mountainous area of southeastern Fujian province that supplies much of the world’s incense.
Now, the clock is ticking with the approach of the Lunar New Year holiday later this month, when countless Chinese will pray and burn incense at temples and in traditional ceremonies.
The craft of producing incense runs deep in Dapu town, where Hong Zhongsen operates a family business passed down through the generations.
“Making incense is very important for my family. It’s not just a business. It’s also to preserve an ancestral craft and a traditional religious culture,” Hong, 31, said, standing amid rows of brightly colored incense sticks.