A blue and white incense burner

Kangxi period (1662-1722)

The censer is of compressed form with a flaring rim and painted around the exterior with a continuous landscape of trees, rivers and mountains. Six small houses are scattered around the scene. One side depicts a scholar pointing at the moon, accompanied by a fisherman and attendant. The waisted neck is encircled by four ribboned symbols alternating with stylised clouds. The base is centred with a double ring.

23 cm diameter



Formerly in the collection of Elisabeth Hendriks

Burning incense was a well-established custom in China since very early times. Incense could be used by burning incense sticks inserted into individual holders or into large sand-filled incense burners.

Often the shape is derived from archaic bronzes like the present porcelain burner. This reflects the keen interest scholars had in archaic shapes at that time.

The burning of incense was not merely an idle scholarly pastime; it was an activity that linked the scholar’s studio with the monastic cell. The incense burner, together with incense sticks and the utensils used for preparation, can be found in paintings depicting scholars as well as those depicting monks. Incense smoke floating up into the air encouraged solitary meditation.

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