Ming Gold-Splashed Kuei Bronze Censer - FZ.388 - For Sale
Ming Gold-Splashed Kuei Bronze Censer - FZ.388
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This striking bronze censer has a low compressed body, slightly everted rim, loop handles and a flat base. The underside of the base has a countersunk rectangular cartouche with a six-character reign mark reading ‘Da Ming Xuande nian zhi’ (‘Made in the Xuande era of the Great Ming’). The form of the censer is one of the classic types produced during the Xuande period (1426-1435) of the Ming Dynasty. In 1428, according to the document ‘Xuande yi qi tu pu’ (‘Illustrated Catalogue of the Ritual Vessels of the Xuande Period’), Emperor Xuande instructed the Ministry of Works to cast a large series of bronze vessels with copper sent as tribute by the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand). They were intended for use on the altars of the palace and beyond. It was customary to display such vessels in groups of five, a central censer, flanked by pairs of vases and candlesticks. Censers were also used in secular contexts, displayed in the studies of the literati and used to burn incense. Xuande apparently commissioned c. 20,000 vessels of 117 different types. The censers were one of the most popular forms and were widely reproduced in the later Ming and Qing eras. Known simply as ‘Xuande censers’ many of these later pieces also bore the Xuande mark. Original marks are distinguished by characters that are complete and smooth, set against a background that is the same colour and luster as the vessel itself. This piece may date to the later Ming period and is noteworthy for its fine casting and finish.