Tibetan railway to boost incense industry

The Lhasa-Shigatse Railway in Tibet Autonomous Region is about to be put into use, after its completion in July. This paves the way for more exchanges between Tibet and the rest of China. One group that will benefit is the Tibetan incense makers in Nimu county, one of the stops along the railway.

Tibetan railway to boost incense industry

Gyatso is one of the incense makers in Nimu county.

Nimu county is famous for its Tibetan incense. Tibetan incense was first made 1300 years ago, but the procedures remain largely the same. The basic ingredient is Cedar wood. The wood is cut into brick-like shapes and fed into machines to be ground into powder. Then secret ingredients are added.

Gyatso is one of Nimu’s incense makers; he has been in the trade for 30 years.

“I made some changes to the traditional secret recipe. It now has 28 different ingredients, many of which are herbs. It took me a lot of experimenting and I wasted a lot material, but the current recipe goes down well with customers,” Gyatso said.

The materials are then pushed out of a container made of bulls’ horns, left to dry, to become the incense sticks widely used in Buddhist temples and monasteries.

“These are headed for Guangdong province, each bundle has 30 sticks of incense, they ordered 500 bundles,” Gyatso said.

Business booms every summer. With the train station just 500 meters from Gyatso’s home, it is more convenient than ever to ship his goods to other parts of China. Gyatso has even started his own company and registered his own label. He is planning a trip to Beijing to bring the scent of this unique Tibetan commodity to the far reaches of China via the new railway.

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