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No other piece of oud paraphernalia holds a higher rank in the eyes of a committed oud-adept than the hallowed mubkhara, or Oud burner. Their designs range from rustically simple to the most embellished, and as we shall see, have not changed much over thousands of years. Let us look more in detail at several different styles now.

Saudi Arabian

First off, and possibly most instantly recognizable, is the Saudi-style burner. This traditional style has a square metal base with inward sloping sides which support a square cup with outward sloping sides. 4 legs support the square cup on top. The top cup will be plated with metal, to be able to bear the hot coals. Variations on this model range from the simple, unadorned wooden or aluminum mass-produced models, to those made of precious metals, encrusted with jewels and/or emblems of royalty, which are works of art within themselves. Also of note here, are more modern versions of these burners, which are plug-in electrical requiring no coals, and even a small portable burner for the car, which plugs simply into a cigarette lighter! Apart from these new variations, these burners have remained virtually unchanged for 2,000 years.


Secondly, we have the traditional Tarimi-style burner. Its shape varies slightly from the Saudi burner in the fact that most Tarimi models come equipped with a handle. This handle is functional for frequent use in congregations, in which the burner is passed from person to person. In the common Yemeni style, these burners are much more rustic, and usually made of hand-carved wood, which gives each model a more unique appearance. They are quite lower in height and stubbier than the Saudi-style. Some come painted in muted colors, and other are simple wood tones. These examples of mubkhara are quite rare outside of Yemen or circles of Yemeni immigrant communities.


Last but not least, we have the refined beauty of the Moroccan-style Mubkhara. Perhaps the most visually striking and ornate, the Magribi-style mubkhara carries all the history and tradition of Andalusian elegance. Most commonly made of pressed stainless steel, the Moroccan style burner usually has a wide hexagonal base on 5-6 small feet. Towering upwards, 4 more feet have been placed on the base holding the main burner, which has an ornate, domed (sometimes pointed), attached lid. They are commonly engraved and have intricate metalwork lattice surrounding the burner level and lid. When used, the lid is closed, and the smoke wafts upwards through the latticework creating a visual feast. Even the smallest versions are quite large, with the largest being too big to even be lifted!

No matter what the design may be, the revered mubkhara is always handy, patiently awaiting the next aloeswood burning session, and never leaves the side of the adept. For years on end they toil while demanding nothing in return, only to improve and deepen with age.