A pair of Dehua incense-stick holders

17th century

The incense-stick holders are of square section, supported on a tapering stepped foot with each facet moulded in relief with cloud-shaped lingzhi. Each has two galleries of spreading form with a central aperture in the top section. The rich creamy glaze is of ivory tone, the hollow base left unglazed.

8.5 cm high



Acquired in Hong Kong, 1974

Purchased from S Marchant & Son, 1994

Formerly in the collection of Robert Suermont



Rinaldi, M., Ceramics in Scholarly Taste, Singpore, 1993, pl. 113

S. Marchant & Son, Exhibition of Blanc de Chine, London, 1994, pl. 100

Kerr, R. & Ayers, J., Blanc de Chine – Porcelain from Dehua, Chicago, 2002, pl. 92

These unusual incense-stick holders are probably derived from Ming-dynasty candlesticks such as the pair in the Dehua Ceramics Museum. The shape of the pair in the museum is circular instead of square with circular galleries and prickets for securing candles. The tiny apertures in the present pair in the top section were probably meant to hold incense sticks. Like the pair in the Dehua Ceramics Museum they have traces of earth suggesting that they originally were burial pieces. They may possibly be miniaturised versions of much larger geometric-shaped porcelain candlesticks.

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