Skip to main content

Heung, Aromatic Stuff

P1010761 (Medium) ^Coiled incense used inside a temple for the Northern King, a Chinese folk deity.

Chinese temples make for a good destination on a leisure, educational and, all the more so, photographic trip. Apart from the effigies depicting the divine celebrities, incense is an intriguing photographic subject.

As for all other photographic assignments, GX GARNERINGS suggests coming up with a theme before going on a photographic trip to the Chinese temple. Learning about the place before setting off also stands you in good stead; take for example, the incense so that you may have an idea about your unique perspective of photographing it.

The Chinese word for incense is pronounced as Heung in Cantonese or Xiang in Putonghua. Heung literally means "aromatic stuff" and comes in various sizes and shapes. The use of incense was recorded as early as in biblical times. In the Paraonic Egypt, incense were made from gums and resins of aromatic trees were imported from the coasts of Arabia and the present-day pirate-infested Somalia which is believed to be the Occident origin of incense. The Pharaohs used incense for religious ceremonies and to dispel unpleasant odours. The extensive use of incense was seen in the Babylonian times when people offered prayers to divining oracles.

Later, incense spread to Israel and from there to Greece, Rome and India. The Bible writes that one of the wise men from the East offer incense to the infant Jesus as a gift.

P1010757 (Medium)

^Incense coils seemingly ascending to the heavens

In the Oriental world, Buddhist monks brought incense with them to Japan in the 6th century which they used for purification rites. In the imperial China, incense was first used in the grand days of the Wu (literally, Military) Emperor of the Han Dynasty datd back to 156 B.C.

Nothwithstanding the nuances of differences among Buddists, Taoists and folk religions of whichever denomination in China, incense is a burnt offering to gratify the deities and mitigate one's sins. Burning incense is thought to bring the offerers a wealth of auspicious returns.

Now how about taking on a theme of bribery to the gods?

P1010760 (Medium)

You may as well be a wee bit disrepecting with your photographic theme.

Having followed up over 61,000 Chinese-Singaporeans for up to 12 years on a survey, researchers conclude that burning incense produces a sweet aroma which could lead to tracteal cancer risks if inhaled. Now figure out how to put the gods, worshippers and incense into an amusing perspective in the images.

P1010570 (Medium)

As for me, I am thinking of an unconventional theme on cheating the gods after seeing how the quantum leaps in the digital and electronic development in the mortal world impact the immortals. Incense offering now comes with an electronic option.

(Photos are by courtesy of Christopher Guy. Thank you, Chris)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

GXR: External Flash and Viewfinder

We are nearly the end of the GXR field report series.  I wish to talk about the external options for the GXR, namely, the flashgun and the viewfinder.The external flash named, well, GF-1 can do TTL flash on Ricoh cameras with the flash interface as illustrated below, which Ricoh called Type R.  It can also be used on  other Ricoh cameras which have no TTL-flash capability like the GX200.When the TTL-A LED is on after the flash has been mounted and turned on, it is ready to do TTL flash.A few presses on the lower rectangular power level select button will light up the last two LEDs on the far right, activating the manual flash output via adjustment on the GXR.The flashgun can turn upwards up to 90°for doing bounce flash but not sideways.  It can double as a wireless slave flash.  For that matter, it comes with a stand.  I have read through the instruction manual but can't find the clue as to whether in slave mode it will automatically distribute the flash output between the main/ t…

GXR M-mount Field Test: Voigtländer Nokton 35mm F1.2 ASPH II Lens

The M module may better be described as a far-flung cousin to rather than an immediate member of the GXR family. When look closer, you may see that the whole point of the M module is not about a new GXR-system module – fact is, the concept of lens-sensor combination is completely forsaken here. It is more about taking advantage of the wide choice of high quality M mount lenses.

In this post, we will look at the lens on loan to us: the Voigtländer Nokton 35mm F1.2 ASPH II.


Although Leica M-mount lenses are the best choice for optical performance, they are not just everyone’s option pricewise. With a lower price tag and great optical performance, Voigtländer lenses are sensible substitutes. Hong Kong’s sole dealer of Ricoh cameras, Laikok, is also the distributor of Voigtländer lenses (manufactured by Cosina of Japan) in Hong Kong. For information about the Voigtländer lenses available from Laikok, check this out.  You may also check out Cosina’s Voigtländer webpage.


With the Voigtländer …

Property Hegemony

(Ricoh GX200)

Property Hegemony is a hot issue in the city.  It refers to the near or actual cartel comprising the local tycoons in the property market.  A worthy read on the topic is a book titled Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong by Alice Poon, a former assistant to a local property tycoon, who wrote it after she migrated to Canada. The book won the Canadian Book Review Annual a few years ago. 
Property hegemony is not an illusionary thing.  Alice has given her readers lots of data to justify the debate.  For example, in 2010, the six richest local clans who are all property developers controlled 14.7% of the Hong Kong stock market value.  This gives a glimpse into the result of the fact that while from 1991 to 1994, 70% of Hong Kong’s private property were built by seven property developers, 55% out of this amount was developed by four of the seven developers.  Today, most major property sites are owned by the biggest three to four among them.
The adverse impacts are very stron…