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Distributed for Hirmer Publishers

Holy Smoke

Censers Across Cultures

Draws on religious art from four continents to investigate the materiality of the sacred.
Burning incense has been a widespread religious practice throughout history and remains so today. The censer and its fragrant, wafting smoke are a basic material exchange between humans and gods and can be found across historical periods, religions, and cultures. Surprisingly, however, little scholarly attention has been given to censers and the rituals they facilitate.
Holy Smoke: Censers Across Cultures investigates the practice of incense—the use of material objects to communicate with the divine—in religious contexts. The book considers the material fabrication of censers themselves, as well as the role of incense within religious ceremonies. Centering the censer not only places the object in a constellation of other religious artifacts, but also relocates rituals long relegated to the margins of religion, art, and ritual. This broad, comparative study will interest scholars in the fields of art history, archaeology, cultural history, anthropology, religious studies, and performance studies.

348 pages | 170 color plates | 8 1/2 x 12

Art: Art--General Studies

Culture Studies

Religion: Comparative Studies and History of Religion

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Table of Contents

Table of Content:
Chapter 1: introduction (Beate Fricke)
Chapter 2: Censers in Near Eastern Cultures (Kiersten Neumann, University of Chicago)
Chapter 3: Censers in Ancient Judaism (Karen Stern, Brooklyn College)
Chapter 4: Censers in Greek Antiquity (Millette Gaifman, Yale University)
Chapter 5: Late Antiquity and Byzantium (Nathan Dennis, San Francisco University)
Chapter 6: Early Islam (Margaret Graves, University of Indiana, Bloomington)
Chapter 7: Censer after the Reformation (Alison Stielau, University College, London)
Chapter 8: Later China (Yao Ning, Humboldt Universität, Berlin)
Chapter 9: Meso-American Cultures (Claudia Brittenham, Chicago University)
Chapter 10: the incense in itself: the material which burns (Béatrice Caseau, Sorbonne University)
Chapter 11: afterword: Jas Elsner (Oxford University)
Glossary, Bibliography, endmatter

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