Incense Boxes and Burners, late 16th-early 17th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

Gilt bronzeexpand_more

Gift of Ruth and Bruce Daytonexpand_more  96.30.1a-j

This unique incense set is comprised of openwork containers (for solid lumps of incense) and a small burner fitted into a compartmentalized case with a handle. The work, in gilt relief on a pierced ground, features the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. This unusual decoration suggests a regional type of metalwork from the Tonkin Gulf, west of Guandong province in southern China. A vessel like this would probably have been used to store and transport various types of aromatic wood. Ya-chi, or "elegant gatherings," were a favorite pastime of China's educated class and frequently included games involving the identification of burning incense. Some of the best poetry, calligraphy, and music also occurred at these congenial gatherings, where group interaction inspired intellectual and artistic achievement.

Incense Boxes and Burners
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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