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The Craftmanship of Chinese Traditional Incense Making

China Folklore Society

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the Center for Chinese Incense Culture (CCIC, subsidiary to China Folklore Society) organized relevant bearers, practitioners and experts to explore the possibility using the wisdom of ICH to cope with the spread of the virus.

According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine, certain formulas of incense have the function of sterilization and could strengthen people’s immune system.

Having examined over one hundred formulas or prescriptions of incense making, three prescriptions were selected to make herbal sachets to assist the existing epidemic prevention methods.

As the competent body of the ICH element, the Craftmanship of Hexiang Incense Making (incense of harmony), CCIC developed one prescription based on the Anti-epidemic Formula of the She Ethnic Minority, which had been proved effective in preventing the spread of the plague in the Republican Southern China.

Using the formula and with the help of the bearers and practitioners of the element, CCIC produced more than one thousand herbal sachets and donated them to the medical workers in Beijing Emergency Center and the community workers in the Dongcheng District of Beijing.

The special contribution of CCIC had already been confirmed by the official feedbacks of the two institutions. A similar case can also be found in Shengyang, where the ICH element the Craftmanship of Manchu Sachet Making was involved in the campaign as well.

Using a formula (containing 9 herbal ingredients) provided by a local hospital, two local tradition bearers, Xue Shuxin and Yang Xiaotong, created a new form of the element combining the Manchu sachet making and traditional Chinese medicine.

On the one hand, according to the traditional medical theory, the formula contained antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients that were good for the human body.

On the other hand, these herbal powders were filled into beautiful Manchu sachets, which were decorated with traditional patterns that conveyed people’s blessings for a safe and happy future.

As it turned out, these Manchu sachets were welcome by the market. To take the Shengjing Manchu Embroidery Inc. as an example, over 700 000 sachets were ordered.

This once again proves that the living heritage is a useful media that not only consoles people’s anxious minds in the time of novel coronavirus, but also serves as a cultural symbol that helps to connect people and bring them closer.

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