11 Best Tibetan Incense Burners (Hanging Incense Burners Included)


Deciding on whether to purchase a Tibetan incense burner can be a difficult task for many individuals. They may not know what features to look for or may be deterred by the cost. In this blog post, we aim to assist those searching for the perfect Tibetan incense burner.

Incense has been utilized in rituals for thousands of years, originating in ancient China and eventually spreading throughout Asia.

In Buddhism, it is believed to be “divine smoke” that allows for the manifestation of gods and spirits and purifies the air during ceremonies and rituals.

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Generally we think of incense in the form of ‘joss sticks’, but in Asian temples and pagodas there are many different forms of incense – not only sticks but coils, powders, cones and aromatic woods.

I have been in temples in Vietnam where huge cone-shaped coils of incense were suspended from the ceiling, creating dense clouds of smoke throughout the rooms (difficult to breathe, but I guess the monks are used to it).

As per Buddhist tradition, Buddha used incense sticks himself and passed the knowledge on to his disciples as a tool for healing and meditation.

Tibetan Incense Burners: Things You Need to Know

In Tibet the most common form is as a powder, burned in small containers with perforated lids but some are also designed to hold sticks, coils or cones.

It’s worth taking a look at the collection of Tibetan incense burners on Amazon. They’ve been well-reviewed by real customers. Therefore, it is likely that these incense holders will live up to their promises.

These containers (incense holders) are usually highly decorative, with a great variety of shapes and materials, and regardless whether someone intends to use them for burning incense, can be interesting ‘objets d’art’ and conversation pieces.

What makes handcrafted Tibetan burners distinct from Chinese or Indian burners is that the Tibetan style usually incorporates one or more of the eight auspicious symbols of Tibetan Buddhism in the ornamental design.

These are: the precious parasol, the white conch shell, the two golden fish, the knot of eternity, the vase of great treasures, the victory banner, the lotus flower, and the eight spoked wheel.

When looking at burners to purchase it might be fun to find some pictures of the symbols and then see if you can spot them on your prospective purchase. Which is not as simple as it sounds, every craftsman interprets the symbols in a different way and they are usually highly stylized.

Incense powders are burned in censers. A small charcoal disc is lit in the censer and the incense is placed on the disc.

The censers are usually round and perforated, often swung during ceremonies from a light chain, similar to that used in some Christian practices.

They are sometimes known as thuribles and can be swung by hand or suspended from the ceiling. The swinging action creates a draught through the censer which allows the charcoal to glow and the incense to burn more strongly.

Best Tibetan Incense Holders (Burners)

A traditional Tibetan burner is often rectangular. It can be in a scroll shape, or a boat, or simply an oblong box. They are always ornate, with stylized figurines on a removable lid.

Many examples are available in online stores, Amazon for example, but it is worth checking that they are genuine Tibetan made from the Himalayas and not mass-produced in a factory in China.

If in doubt look at the workmanship – in Tibet they would be mostly handmade by artisans, not made from molds.

Below is an excellent example of a rectangular box:

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Amazing Pagoda Style Tibetan Incense Burner

Another popular shape is the small jar or cauldron shape. Round with small handles either side, these can be found decorated with the Tibetan Buddhist symbols and various scrollwork and are generally very highly attractive in themselves.

The removable lid is perforated to allow the smoke to rise through or for incense sticks to be inserted.

Here you can see some excellent examples of intricate workmanship:

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Crescendo & Co Golden Tibetan Incense Burner Holder

This traditional incense burner (Crescendo Golden Incense Burner) is well crafted with exquisite detail and is covered by a lid. The burner richly displays auspicious Buddhist symbolism meant to boost your good fortune, spiritual growth, good luck, and happiness.

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MEDOOSKY Incense Holder Burner

This burner can be a great decorative art piece, an incense burner for religion or meditation purposes, or simply be used as a bowl to burn resin and incense powder.

The copper construction of this MEDOOSKY incense burner makes it more durable and solid than ceramic burners.

To use it, remove the lid, insert the incense cone/stick/powder, light, blow out, then put the lid back on. The handles on the top of the lid and ring make it more convenient for you to take the lid off.

Next up are coil incense burners. Coil burners are usually round and have a metal trivet inside to raise the coil off the bottom since coils do not burn well just on a flat surface. Here are some small, round box type burners suitable for coils, cones or sticks:

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sleeri Tibetan Incense Burner

The craftsmanship of the Sleeri Tibetan incense burner is just impeccable. It is made of high quality alloy, which is very durable and absolutely beautiful. Not only can you use it for decoration, but also as a gift or souvenir. 

But the only thing you need to watch out for is that you use a short incense stick, otherwise the ashes will end up on the outside of the dish. To be honest, this Tibetan incense burner is quite small in size. I tried using long incense sticks but that doesn’t work. I use cone incense and it works fine. 

I like this item because of its size, portability and its beautiful decorations on the product. It is a very eye-catching accessory that can be carried inside a bag quite easily.

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Tibetan Incense Tower Stick Cone Coil Holder

This Tibetan incense burner is another solid piece of cloisonne artwork. The burner is small, but it works well.

I like its size – you can place it in a small part of the table and it’s not going to disturb anyone. In fact, it will make your desk look aesthetically pleasing.

The burner has a reflective heat-resistant liner inside it. The heat resistant reflective liner is as described, heat resistant, so it’s not going to melt, or burn.

The bottom is flat, so you can put charcoal on it. It is important to keep in mind that charcoal can damage your furniture if it gets too hot. You might want to put something under the burner in that case.

The top has vent holes that allow air to flow through.

I would recommend this product to anyone who wants to try out Tibetan Incense burners, but is unsure about it.

Design, Materials, and Pricing

Materials used also vary, with silver being the most highly prized. 

A Tibetan incense holder/burner can be made from stone, wood, bronze, brass or ceramic etc., and can either be used for religious purposes or for decorative purposes.

Tibetan incense burners come in different shapes, sizes and designs. If a product is designed and made in Tibet, there is an emphasis on solid craftsmanship and intricate detail.

Incense holders made in silver are mostly more ornamented and of course the most expensive.

Gold is rarely used, except as an inlay on boxes or added as a motif as decoration.

Bronze and brass tend to be more traditional materials especially in Tibet due to their longevity and strength, lasting centuries.

At the lower end of the scale it is common to find that a metallic looking incense burner is in fact made from resin, molded in a factory.

This type can function just as well for its original purpose but as a unique décor object the difference can be identified as soon as it is touched – it never feels like metal.

In terms of pricing, incense stick holders can be found for less than $10 with the price increasing as they become more ornate.

These are usually simple design plate or bowl forms, just something to hold the joss stick and to collect the ash.

Holders can also be found in the shape of animals – I personally have one in the shape of a dragon whose mouth is open upwards, the sticks are inserted into the mouth, so that the dragon appears to be breathing out smoke.

This is a typical plate-style stick holder:

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Govinda – Tibetan Incense Burner

Tibetan Hanging Incense Burners (Holders)

Censers can be found in a decent range from about $30 to $120, and the rectangular box burners are similarly priced.

Hanging censers vary in size, depending on whether they are designed to be held by hand or suspended from the ceiling.

These are less sought after as home décor items probably because not many people want a swinging censer hanging in their lounge, although they can be either standing or hanging.

They normally have three feet or a simple pedestal base to allow them to stand. Here are some censers, ranging from simple design to quite ornate:

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DharmaObjects Tibetan Hanging Incense Burner 5″ High

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Tibetan Hanging Incense Burner
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DharmaObjects Tibetan Hanging Incense Burner 7″ High
Mudra Crafts Tibetan Incense Burner

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Mudra Crafts Tibetan Incense Burner (2)
Video: Tibetan Incense Burner

Parting Words

When considering purchasing a Tibetan incense burner, it’s important to note that prices can vary greatly depending on the age and authenticity of the piece.

While recently produced items may be priced more reasonably, antique and collectible pieces can fetch thousands of dollars.

When shopping for antique items, it can be challenging to determine their age as many, particularly silver and bronze pieces, may have been artificially aged.

This is particularly prevalent in tourist stores in Lhasa, Tibet, where many items may appear ancient but were actually made recently.

Despite these considerations, it’s important to remember that the main purpose of a Tibetan incense burner is to enhance the ambiance of a room, facilitate meditation and change the scent of the environment.

So, if you find an incense burner that you like at a reasonable price and it serves the purpose of enhancing your home décor or meditation and prayer, that may be all that matters.

In Buddhism, incense burners are commonly used in prayer, as the burning of incense is believed to change people’s emotions and put them in the right frame of mind for meditation.

The use of incense burners in the West is a relatively recent development, but they are gaining popularity.

In conclusion, we hope this article has been informative and helpful in your search for the perfect Tibetan incense burner. Happy shopping!

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