Since ancient times Saudi Arabia is renown for producing high-quality incense. Indeed, from the seventh century BCE to the second century CE Saudi Arabia was the world’s biggest incense supplier. The trading of Arabian frankincense became a great success, and lead to a bustling trade along the ancient Incense Trade Route. Now, many centuries later, the Arabian frankincense still is regarded as one of the most refined types of incense for ritual use.
Arabian frankincense is also known as ‘olibanum’, or lubbān in Arabic. In Hindi, however, it is called ‘dhoop’, from which the Indonesian word dupa derives. ‘Frankincense’ comes from franc encense, which in old French translates as high-quality incense. Arabian frankincense is made from resin of Boswellia trees. This resin has a very smooth aroma, which makes it the ideal material for high-quality incense. Furthermore, in order to guarantee the highest quality, the sorting of this resin is done by hand.
In Christian tradition it is said, that Arabian frankincense was brought by the Three Wise Men coming from the East, who offered it as a gift to celebrate the birth of Jesus. For this reason, Arabian frankincense is still used by the Roman Catholic Church today. In Jewish tradition Arabian frankincense is considered a consecrated incense, which is used in ritual ceremonies. And, of course, Arabian frankincense is used for ritual purposes in Islamic tradition, too.
This luxurious incense is very effective for aromatherapy. In addition, Arabian frankincense is used for making alternative medicines and herbal healing supplements in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries. Since it is edible, one can chew on the resin, like chewing gum, which is an efficacious method for treating digestion problems. Frankincense is also used in Ayurvedic medicine, where it is typically recommended as a treatment of asthma, arthritis and rheumatism.
Today’s international market and online trade is flooded with all kinds of incense, including Arabian frankincense. However, due to the rarity and high price of Arabian frankincense, only a very few online shops seem to sell real Arabian frankincense. Moreover, the majority of these online stores only sell Arabian frankincense in powder form. Yet if they do sell the pure resin clumps, then these often are of rather poor quality, for the low-quality resin clumps have a dark color (varying from dark gray, green, to yellow, or brown) and are very small in size (the bigger the size of the resin clumps, the more expensive they become). Hence, the whiter/lighter the color of the resin, the purer and thus the higher the quality of the Arabian frankincense. The only reason why we are able to offer genuine Arabian frankincense is because it was brought along by an Indonesian Muslim master who kindly offered it as a gift to us after he returned from his hajj (pilgrimage to the city of Mecca).