each finely cast as a mythical beast, standing proud on all fours upon a cloud scroll pedestal, with head held high and turned at a slight angle, with a ferocious facial expression comprised of bulging eyes, furled eyebrows and mouth open mid-roar revealing sharp fangs, with short curling beard and thick tasseled mane at the back of the neck, its long pointed ears pressed back and wide forehead surmounted by two antlers, the strong muscular body with a sharply ridged spine leading down to a long tail with thick tasseled end, the back with a large circular aperture with a pierced archaistic bat form cover, the powerful legs issuing scrolling flames, each foot five sharp claws, the chest chased with the four-character mark
Pairs of these types of qilin censers, known as luduan, were found flanking a throne and were part of a set of imperial court assemblage known as commonly as "the throne group". In addition to the censer and the throne, there usually was a pair of elephants each with a vase on its back (symbolizing peace), a standing fan, and a pair of vertical censers, all backed by a throne screen. When the censers burned sandalwood, it would indicate the presence of the emperor and thus helped to evoke a solemn atmosphere of of imperial order. Examples of these censers include ones illustrated in Chuimei Ho and Bennet Bronson, Splendors of China's Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong, Field Museum, Chicago, 2004, exhibition cat. no. 41 and a pair in situ in a photograph taken by Osvald Siren, in the early 1920s of the Qianqing Gong (Mansion of Heavenly Purity), reproduced in ibid. p. 95, cat no. 103.
A related gilt-bronze censer with turquoise inlay carvings in the Shenyang Palace Museum, is illustrated by R. L. Thorp, Son of Heaven: Imperial Arts in China, Seattle, 1988, p. 40, no. 33. Another parcel-gilt and hardstone inlay recumbent Buddhist lion dating to the 15th - 16th century, formerly in the Salting Bequest, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, illustrated by Rose Kerr, Later Chinese Bronzes, Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 88, no. 72. Another one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is illustrated in A Special Exhibition of Incense Burners and Perfumers Throughout the Dynasties, Taipei, 1994, p. 265, no. 119. See also a related bronze qilin censer and cover in the Steven Hung and Lindy Chern Collection, illustrated in Chinese Incense Burners, National Museum of History, Taipei, 2000, cat. no. 174.
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