Sitting atop a karst mountain, looking down on the limestone peaks and boats bobbing along the Ngo Dong River – a huge expansive view, a view to drown in, –  my gaze was drawn down to the girl sitting quietly next to me, painting a jar of incense at the foot of the Quan Am. A narrowing. Honing in like ants on a sticky trail. ‘I like your drawing’, I told her. I’d found a fellow incense freak. ‘I know it’s a bit strange to be concentrating on this, in such a place’, she mumbled. Not at all, I thought. ‘It’s always the same, the same colours, the same arrangement. I just love it. I have so many drawings of this’. I too love it. The simplicity. The beauty. The act of faith. Who needs karst mountains. Beauty is in the detail. And in the eye of the beholder.

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17 thoughts on “Incense.

  1. The second photo is my favorite. I relate to this post, as the incense holders and the shrines in Viet Nam always got my attention… especially the smaller and more humble ones. Drawing really allows one to focus the eye on details which otherwise we might not notice.



  2. Yep, I like the fact that some are not so grand, and that things are re-used, and that there’s something so positive about all of them – the intention of them. I am thinking of trying to draw my surroundings in lock-down, to encourage a further ‘slowing’. Your comment makes me want to give it a go!


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