Incense burners

From Dis or Shihr, east of Mukalla, Yemen, AD 1960s

Incense is an expensive commodity that has been traded and used in South Arabia for about 3000 years. It is still used today. Incense is made of a variety of gums, spices and resins such as frankincense and myrrh, and gives off a fragrance when evaporated or burnt. It is used in the home primarily during social gatherings and certain religious festivals or it may be presented as a gift.

The burner (majmarah) is often passed between guests who wave the vapours close to their faces while praising the host. In some rural areas it is burned in the early morning and at sunset to protect against the evil eye. Sometimes clothes are scented by being draped across a special wicker frame over an incense burner. Today some Yemeni people use electric incense burners imported from Japan.

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More information


S. Posey, Yemeni pottery (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)


Height: 11.400 cm (left)
Height: 11.400 cm (left)

Museum number

AOA 1965.As7.9;AOA 1993.As11.17


Gift of Dr M.J. Littlewood (1965.As7.9)


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