A Chinese Prayer Candle Made From Joss
Chinese praying materials are known to many people as prayer wheels or firecrackers. They are
circular and can be made out of clay, stone or wood. Materials used in making Chinese prayer
wheels range from grass, bamboo 拜神香, reed and joss to name a few. During the earlier times of
Chinese civilization, joss stick or firecracker prayer wheels were made of wood. Today they are
available, made from plastic, jute, paper and even metal. Joss sticks were also known as
agarwood sticks and were utilized during the early times of the Chinese and have since then
been dried and used as an incense to increase sex drive and to cure certain illnesses.
Today joss sticks are no longer used as a prayer wheel as they are considered too crude by the
Chinese. Instead they are used in the same way as other modern tools such as the jigsaw and
drill. A post candle is essentially a religious tool that serves a dual purpose: it burns and it serves
as a decorative element for any Chinese temple. The first joss stick candle was created about
200 years ago and is still produced by the same ceramic kiln as the first one was made.
One of the most unique characteristics of a joss stick candle is the use of both color and design
on the same stick. This makes for a unique form of worship as the devotees use both the stick
themselves and the color wheel to design their worship. Many Chinese believe that the stick
holds the color of whatever object they are worshipping for, and thus they will not burn any stone
or metal candle that does not possess that specific color.
A joss stick candle is generally black, but may also be red, orange, pink or any other color of the
rainbow. Each color has a meaning as well as a different symbol. Red is used for luck and good
fortune, while blue is for establishing and maintaining good relationships. Pink carries a romantic
sense of love and purity, while green symbolizes fertility and nature.
As mentioned, each color has a different meaning and there are over a dozen known colors plus
some more that have recently been discovered. Some of these colors include yellow, which is
the god of metal, earth and fire, silver which represents wealth and medicine, green which is the
god of animals, and orange which is the god of many things including healing. Of course, there
are also traditional symbols which are applied to joss candles and are usually done in Chinese
characters. The most common ones are the dragon and the five elements, all of which are
representative of the Buddhist components.
As with all forms of art, people have developed their own styles and designs for making their
joss candles. Some prefer to design them in a more simplistic manner with no pattern or color
other than the Chinese writing that is generally used. Others prefer to add a pattern to the top of
the candle and use it to write their personal message on the outside of the joss stick. Many will
even add a small photograph of themselves to the outside of the candle, often accompanied by
a short quote or prayer. They will then burn the candle in a special way, to dedicate it to the
person they have lost and wish to keep in their heart.
While Chinese writing is not present on all joss sticks, those that do use the traditional scripts
can still create a lovely and meaningful symbol when used for Chinese prayer. In fact, this can
actually be an important part of the materials symbolism. It is said that the old Chinese would
take the joss stick and read the Chinese writing on the outside before burning it in the fire. This,
they hoped would help them connect to the spirit world and learn how to pray and ask for the
things they needed.
Today, you will find many Chinese candles that are made using joss sticks, as this specific type
of joss is becoming more popular among people of Chinese descent. If you want to purchase
joss sticks, it can be hard finding them without being familiar with Chinese culture and the beliefs
of the Chinese. However, most stores now sell them with the symbols already inscribed on the
outside, so this shouldn’t be a problem. If you do want to save one joss stick from your
grandmother’s day, you can always pay the higher price for a joss made specifically for Chinese
culture and history.