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Subject:Japan? China? ceramic fish incense burner
Posted By: Paul Tue, Jan 14, 2020 IP: 2600:8801:9700:234f:

I'd like to know the age and origin of this incense burner. Also, a translation (or general idea) of the characters, if possible, which appear archaic to me. I'm thinking it might not be very old, but it is nicely made. I cannot find another one online anything like it, although there are some Japanese bronzes with a similar look.

Subject:Re: Japan? China? ceramic fish incense burner
Posted By: Paul Wed, Jan 15, 2020

3 more photos

Subject:Re: Japan? China? ceramic fish incense burner
Posted By: Bill H Wed, Jan 15, 2020

The six-character mark says "Made during the Qianlong Reign of the Great Qing Dynasty" (Da qing Qian long nian zhi - 大清乾隆年製). The censer looks to be carefully made. Its upper part appears from what can be seen to have probably been cast by the lost wax method, though the base has a texture that makes me think it came from a ceramic or sand mold. The patina differs a bit between the bottom and top, but still is convincing. I'd almost venture to say that the piece is of the period, except that after reviewing major auction house archives, the mark appears to vary a bit with what seem to be the norms for that reign, during which time all manner of Qianlong markings, imperial and otherwise, were rather strictly controlled. This is not to say that popular bronzes might not have exhibited a broad interpretation of the rules 0n occasion.

I've added some pictures below for comparison of a vetted example of a Qianlong censer, about seven inches in diameter and also with a six-character mark on the base. I bought it in the USA about 20 years ago and since have only seen one like it, but with a partly obliterated mark, which was sold in May 2003 by a European auction house.

Hopefully you'll attract comments from specialist collectors of bronzes with more than my more happenchance acquaintance with it.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Japan? China? ceramic fish incense burner
Posted By: Paul Wed, Jan 15, 2020

Thank you, Bill H, for your comments. I must point out my posting title, which identifies this piece as a work of ceramic. Although, without handling it, it could easily be mistaken for bronze.
The quality of work is excellent, I think, not what I would expect for a newer piece, although I am not totally convinced that the brown/black patina is genuinely old. I really can't tell. Maybe I should stop using it out on the table until I find out. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |