Incense and incense burners were extremely important not only in ancient China, but across also many ancient cultures. Tripod incense burners find their origin in the terracotta tripod vessels of Neolithic China. Such vessels would have been used not only as ritual vessels but also as cauldrons. Terracotta incense burners would have been modelled following the example of the more expensive bronze ones. The shape of this fine example, with its three legs, it’s a reminiscent of the popular Chinese ding vessel, a type of ware used for cooking or storing, usually featuring three or four supporting legs and to handles to the rim. Interestingly, during the Han Dynasty the incense used was acquire from foreign countries, as the local incense was considered not good enough.
Han Dynasty Elaborate Incense Burner
An elaborate Han Dynasty terracotta incense burner, featuring its original lid and two-part body. The top part is detachable and displays several perforations where the incense sticks would have been inserted. The lower part features a flaring shape and sits on three zoomorphic legs. Traces of the original pigment visible to the surface. Such piece would have originally used to burn incense in divinatory ceremonies or burned with the deceased in a tomb as a mingqi.
Period: Han Dynasty
Condition: Extremely fine, with original lid.