The only other recorded incense burner of this form is an almost identical example from the Corneur Collection, Paris, offered at Christie’s Hong Kong, 1st November 2004, lot 835, which is conceived in exactly the same manner, differing only in that the mark is cast in a rectangular cartouche on the underside. See also a select group of Xuande reign-marked gilt-bronze incense burners, decorated with brilliantly articulated dragons in high relief, which share prominent features with the current burner, notably the depiction of the beast’s expression, the combed effect of the hair, the claws and the swirling motifs, one of which was sold in these rooms, 5th October 2011, lot 1943, and another, illustrated by Hugh Moss and Gerald Tsang, Arts from the Scholar’s Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 139, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27th May 2008, lot 1912.
Although this mythical beast when found as an incense burner is usually referred to as a luduan, here the leonine form and single horn pointing forwards enable identification as a xiezhi, a mythical beast with a single horn, renowned for its ability to distinguish good from evil, hence its role as the emblem of imperial judges and censors. It stands on a snake, and the upper section of the head and mane can be raised to grant access to the inside of the incense burner. This became a popular model from the Xuande period onwards, often with the head attached to the body by a hinge, and are relatively common from the Late Ming period onwards. For two later versions, see Paul Moss and Gerard Hawthorn, The Second Bronze Age. Later Chinese Metalwork, Sydney L. Moss Ltd, London, 1991, cat. nos. 18 and 19.
A mythical beast of similar form, depicted with a serpentine dragon emerging from water, is shown in a woodblock print in Shijuzhai zhencang jianpu, first published in 1645, illustrated by Ip Yee and Laurence Tam, Chinese Bamboo Carving, Part I, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1978, p.174, fig.15.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale