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Incense box, Japan, 1800s

This little wren box is an incense burner. Like other burners, it has a hole through which the perfumed smoke can rise. Large burners were used in China, Korea and in Japan. This wren is much smaller than most, just like the bird itself. The Japanese burnt incense in Buddhist ceremonies and in meditation from the 500s, often using agar wood. Perfumes were also important in Japanese court life and samurai warriors purified themselves before battle by burning incense.

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