Worship brought communities together

People lit sticks of incense and placed them in this censer so the smoke would carry their prayers to the other world. A group of men and women commissioned this censer for their village’s temple in AD 1548.

The censer is much bigger than incense-holders in private homes; it could have held offerings from a large and active temple community.

Parts of the inscription are worn away—here’s what we can still read:

In Shaanxi Province, Xi’an Prefecture, Chang’an County, Yuliang Li Shanzheng Village…, resident disciple together with his wife Lady Li, disciple Dang Jinshan with his wife Lady Wei, disciple Lady Liu, Lady Meng, Lady Kang, Lady Wang…Yang Xiang…made [this censer] on the lucky day in mid-autumn of year Wushen of the Jiangjing reign [AD 1548].