A gilt-bronze incense burner

17th-18th century

The censer of cylindrical form with flaring rim is supported on three cabriole feet. The spreading sides are set with two stylised angular handles. The recessed base is centred with a three-character mark Zui Mo Xuan.

8.2 cm high, 12.7 cm wide



Formerly in the collection of Jan Habbema, acquired in Indonesia prior to 1936, thence by descent in the family.

Jan Habbema formed a vast collection of Chinese art whilst stationed as a high official in Bojonegoro, Indonesia, until 1936. 


The base mark Zui Mo Xuan may be translated as ‘Drunken Ink Pavilion’, probably the name of a scholar’s studio.

Incense burners are one of the most distinctive of all Chinese cultural artefacts. According to the latest archaeological data, the earliest censers appeared in the Kingdom of Chu in the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), some 2700 years ago. It has been a permanent feature of all eras since then and became an extremely important object of daily use in the Ming and Qing dynasties as scholars became more nostalgic of the past.

An incense burner of similar shape with base mark Wan Zhu Zhai ‘Treasured Bamboo Studio’ from the Ulrich Hausmann collection was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. This rare form can also be found in cloisonné, where the handles are in the shape of lion heads.

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