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Journal Articles Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies Year : 2011

Typology of incense-burners of the Islamic period


This paper is the result of a study begun in my Master's dissertation about incense-burners typology and frankincense trade in the Islamic period, that is to say from the 7th century to nowadays. This typology was mainly realized from the study of the incense-burners found in Al-ShiΉr (Yemen), a port of trade whose wealth came not only from the fishery, but also from frankincense. These objects were first published by Claire Hardy-Guilbert (2005), and then the final typology was set up and presented (Hardy-Guilbert and Le Maguer 2010). In order to understand the frankincense trade, the typology was extended to incense-burners found in the Arabian Peninsula and its surrounds, that is to say as far as Egypt, Bilād al-Sham, Iraq and South-Western coastal Iran. Indeed, the Arabian Peninsula is still involved in the maritime and the terrestrial trade in the Islamic period. The frankincense is still a wealth generating product and a source of income in the Southern Arabian Peninsula, especially in the regions of ḤaΡramawt (Yemen) and Dhofar (Oman). The author presents a typology of the incense-burners made of clay and those made of soft stone, dating from the Islamic period. We define as "incense-burner" any container used for burning with aromatic resins in a secular context. These objects are not only evidence of the use of incense, but also of its trade both by land and sea routes. Indeed, the distribution of soft stone incense-burners is determined by the mines and workshops and their relation to the trades routes. The pottery incense-burners are mainly made locally and their patterns and shapes are generally linked to determined area. The different types are determined upon the material (pottery or soft stone), the shape and decoration, in chronological order.
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hal-00839139 , version 1 (27-06-2013)


  • HAL Id : hal-00839139 , version 1


Sterenn Le Maguer. Typology of incense-burners of the Islamic period. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 2011, 41, pp.173-185. ⟨hal-00839139⟩
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