Crafting a Tibetan Rope Incense Burner

File:Tibetan rope incense 2.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

Tibetan rope incense is a rare treat to find here in the United States, even among incense enthusiasts. In Tibet, Nepal, and Northern Bhutan, however, handcrafted dhoop (incense), in both rope and stick form, is an important aspect of Tibetan culture. Incense from this part of the world has an array of distinctive spicy, earthy scents from juniper, sandalwood, and other regional ingredients. Creating rope incense involves rolling a mixture of powdered herbs and spices into a long strip of rice paper. The role is then twisted into a short length of rope with a loop at one end. The advantage of using paper rope instead of extruding the incense into sticks is that the end product is more durable and preserves the fragrances inside, giving it a longer shelf life.

If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in possession of Tibetan rope incense, you’ll quickly discover that it will not fit or stand straight in a standard incense burner. This tutorial will walk you through how to craft a simple, but beautiful, multipurpose hook-style Tibetan rope incense holder.

What you’ll need:

  • Wire
  • Beads
  • A small decorative candle in a jar or another small vessel

Begin by creating a wire base for your incense holder, doubling up the wire to your desired strength.

Take a separate wire a bit longer than the length of the hook and thread beads on. Get creative with your beads, moving from smaller to larger sizes.

Wrap the beaded wire around the hook, weaving the beads around the wire structure. Place the heavier beads at the bottom. Finally, wrap additional heavy beads around the base as a counterbalance.

The final product is knobby and organic, in the spirit of rope incense itself. The candle underneath functions as both an ash catcher as well as a candle. If you decide instead to use an empty jar, consider collecting the ash from the incense, which can function as a bed for burning cone and stick incense.