Japanese: Tabu or Tabu no ki
From Kyushu to China, Taiwan and Thailand the Machilus Thunbergii trees grow. Makko really just means "Incense Powder," but when we refer to Makko we are talking about a specific incense powder called Tabu no ki. It is the bark of the Machillus Thunbergii tree. Makko comes in four grades, and the the higher grades have less aroma than the lower ones. What makes this powder so special is its water soluble adhesive properties, an almost odorless characteristic that seems to be entirely lost when mixed with other ingredients, and its abilities to burn smoothly and evenly. It is the binder used in making Japanese incense for centuries and now finds some popularity in incense manufacture in other countries.
Makko was first used as a replacement for Sandalwood powder (which was difficult and expensive to obtain) in Chinese temples where it was spread of the floor to keep insects away. Later, either in China or Japan it began replacing Sandalwood as the base in "Incense Clocks" or "Trails" -- see Silvio A. Bedini, The Trail of Time.
At some point it was also used in Japan to form a combination binder and burning agent in making Japanese style Joss sticks.
© Copyright 2007 - David Oller