For this creative response, I decided to design an incense burner. I was fascinated with the dog-like incense burner at the MET in New York, as well as the many other incense burners. After seeing the prevalence of animals throughout the exhibit and reading the Conference of the Birds, I was inspired to do some further researching into the roles animals play in Islamic culture. I also decided to ask some people who have actually been to Middle Eastern countries what animals they saw most often and which animals seemed to be most respected.
The overwhelming response I received from my friends, and confirmation through some online exploration, was that cats are favored and especially taken care of. Cats are clean and pure animals to be “cherished and loved” (http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=3207). The Prophet is said to have a special adoration for cats as well. These findings all pointed me towards designing a cat incense burner.
In actually designing the incense burner, I wanted it to be functional. This, unfortunately, hasn’t happened completely. The piece still needs to be fired in the oven, I just haven’t had access to the oven yet. Once this happens, though, it will be functional. I also messed up the timing to poke the holes needed for the incense to properly dispersed. Initially, I poke a few holes which closed up because it was still too soft, then when I went to poke more holes in later and redo the ones I already did, the material was already too hard. Fortunately, though, I’ve learned for the next time I make an incense burner!