Incense is an integral part of Indian devotional life. The daily pooja ritual is steeped in a sensual experience - each of the jnanendriyas being a unique pathway for the world to penetrate us. There is the sound of the temple bell, beauteous icons of one’s ishtahead for the eyes to feast on, and finally prasadam. There is the touch of the ground and the agni (fire) to the temple. The scent of burning incense - usually camphor and the jacket of coconut - completes the experience.
The incense vessel that you see on this page is fashioned after the shape of a peacock. Its richly detailed plumage has been sculpted on and around the breast in lifelike detail. Zoom in on the miniscule, symmetrical serrations on its body and its slightly open wings. Note the way part of the plumage flourishes up above its back. A curvaceous extension from under its tail functions as a handle, along which are bored holes that would allow the incense to escape. Similar orifices are to be found along the long neck of the peacock, its back and beak, and the tips of its plumage.
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