The censer is decorated to the sides with lingzhi fungus and is supported by four kneeling boys on a square pedestal with reticulated sides. A Buddhist lion is seated on the cover with one paw resting on a brocade ball with ribbons extending to the beast’s open mouth, from which the smoke of burning incense could escape. The lustrous sea-green glaze is characteristic of Longquan celadon from the Ming dynasty. The square form of this rare piece represents the earth, while the lingzhi symbolizes longevity.
16,5 cm high
Provenance: Formerly in an old Japanese private collection
The use of incense burners in China started as early as the Zhou dynasty (770-256 BC) where they played an important role in religious rituals and were mostly made out of bronze. During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) incense burners appeared in a variety of shapes and were made from many materials such as porcelain, jade and cloisonné. Incense burners, which had practical as well as aesthetic value, were placed in the imperial chambers, in studios of the literati, or on a family’s home altar. Longquan celadon has been favoured by the Japanese for ages and many high-quality pieces have made their way to Japan through the centuries.