(excerpt from the PARI Newsletter)

Incensarios and incensario stands are ubiquitous in the archaeological record but at no site in the Classic Maya world are they as consistently iconographically complex or as aesthetically refined as at the ancient city of Palenque. Palenque's mask-flange incensario complex mirrors, and perhaps derives, from earlier architectural sculpture, cache vessels, incensarios and incensario stands.

They stand roughly a meter in height and are formed from a hollow ceramic cylinder, sculpted on one side with the head of a deity, human, or human in the guise of a deity.

Flanking the central image are symmetrical side flanges that depict an invariable iconographic formula, the rigidity of which renders them the least diagnostic elements in the composition. In function, the hollow ceramic cylinder of the stand served to support the actual incensario or brazier, though the divisibility of the brazier and stand appears to be functional rather than meaningful.

-- Michael Carrasco