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Chinese Bronzes of the Shang and Zhou Periods
Han Dynasty Bronzes
Early Chinese Ceramics
Sculpture from Tombs
Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
Tang and Liao Dynasty Metalwork
Ceramics of the Song and Jin Periods
Porcelains of the Yuan and Early Ming Periods
Imperial Chinese Ceramics of the 15th Century
Ceramics of the Late Ming Period
Qing Dynasty Porcelain
Landscape Painting in China
Jade and Lacquer in China
Censer in the Shape of Mount Bo (Boshanlu)
North China; Eastern Han period (25-220 C.E.), C.E. 1st - 2nd century
Gilt bronze
H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm); D. 4 5/8 in. (11.7 cm)saucer
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
Censers became popular during the 4th century B.C.E. in the southern state of Chu, where interest in incense and exotic fragrances was widespread. During the Western Han dynasty (206 B.C.E. - C.E. 9), they began to be cast in the form of mountain peaks identified with magical worlds such as Penglai, an imaginary mountain paradise believed to lie either in the far west or in the eastern seas. The mountainous landscape that forms the top of the censer is populated with small figures of dogs, tortoises, and monkeys and is perforated with small holes to allow the smoke of the incense to escape. This smoke was believed to represent cloud-breath or yunqi, an auspicious omen. The sight of smoke rising from a censer such as this one would have been interpreted as a tangible manifestation of cloud-breath, making such censers valuable tools for adepts in the various cults of immortality. On this censer, the mountainscape is supported on a four-petal tray standing on a coiled dragon cast in high relief.
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