Incense Attendant

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Incense Attendant
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Origin of the Title of Incense Attendant ( 侍香 Shixiang )

The role of Incense Attendant, a Daoist ritual function, is taken by a Daoist ritual attendee. No records remain about the position of Incense Attendant in early Daoist rituals, for these were rather simple. Incense was used widely in people's life and Daoist rituals until the Southern and Northern Dynasties. The role of Incense Attendant appeared as late as the Regulations and Penalties for the Use of Lanterns and Candles in Pervasive Mystery Numinous Treasure Offerings (《洞玄靈寶齋說光燭戒罰燈祝願儀》 Dongxuan Lingbao Zhai Shuo Guangzhu Jiefa Deng Zhuyuan Yi ) compiled by eminent Daoist Lu Xiujing (406-477) of the Southern Dynasties. The title Incense Attendant wasn't used widely until the Tang and Five Dynasties. Today, Daoist Offering Altars ( 齋壇 Zhaitan ) still have Daoists especially in charge of incense.

Functions

The book Regulations and Penalties for the Use of Lanterns and Candles in Pervasive Mystery Numinous Treasure Offerings says that the Incense Attendant should "arrange the burner and keep the incense burning and the burner clean. He must be well prepared before all rituals, without any miss." The book Preaching Commandments for Assigning Tasks during Golden Register Great Fasts (《金籙大齋補職說戒儀》 Jinlu Dazhai Buzhi Shuojie Yi )

of the Tang and Five Dynasties requires the Incense Attendant to "finely decorate the burners, carefully clean the desks, and always keep incense-sticks burning. The mysterious mirror is always bright and can reflect any cordial sincerity. So do not fail in the middle of the task and miss the original heart." Meanwhile, it postulates that if he failed his task, the Incense Attendant would be levied a fine of incense or oil, or even a 12-year reduction of his life expectancy.