Dating back 2,000 years, and once only reserved for monks, scholars and Emperors, the spiritual practice of the art of incense is one of China’s oldest traditions. It explores the importance of scent in relation to human spirit and nature, revealing the sophistication of Chinese culture.
In the peaceful location of The Feuerle Collection you can now experience this ancient discipline within The Incense Room.
This is the first time an art museum has focussed on the culture of Chinese incense rituals – and the first time it has been presented it as an artistic practice.
Inspired by the knowledge of Chinese Incense Masters, Désiré Feuerle, collector and founder of The Feuerle Collection, created the ceremony that takes place in The Incense Room.
‘The art of incense in China is incredibly complex and relatively unknown in Europe,’ states Feuerle. ‘I wanted to share a contemporary and authentic version of this beautiful, ancient and refined ceremony.’
For the past three decade Feuerle has sought to create an innovative way of engaging with and experiencing art. The Feuerle Collection, located in a former Second World War telecommunications bunker in Berlin, is the culmination of this endeavour as it brings Imperial Chinese furniture and Southeast Asian sculpture together with contemporary art by artists including Nobuyoshi Araki and Anish Kapoor.
Within the setting of this Gesamtkunstwerk, surrounded by exquisite sculptures such as Khmer statues, is the glass-cased room in which the ceremony takes place.
The British architect John Pawson, who transformed the bunker to house Feuerle’s collection, designed the space as well as the ceremonial black lacquered table that plays a central role in the ceremony.
Following the traditions of Chinese furniture-making and advised by expert craftsman Kevin Chen of Degoo-Chunzai Workshop, Pawson designed the table to allow for the unfolding of scents including Green Qinan, Bhutan Qinan and Hainan Agarwood.
Other incense tools including 24K gold mica plates, specially design kimonos and shoes for the master and guests to wear, all form part of this very special ritual that has been given a contemporary interpretation.
The Incense Room is at The Feuerle Collection, Hallesches Ufer 70, 10963 Berlin, Germany. Open Friday–Sunday. Booking required as the collection can be seen by appointment only. Recommended for adults and children over 16.