This pair of censers is remarkable for its massive size, which endows the pieces with an architectural quality. The large size would have allowed for an impressive display that was heightened by fragrant fumes ascending through the openwork cover when incense was burnt. Censers of this colossal size were cast after archaic bronzes and often produced to be placed at the entrances of ceremonial or ritual halls, such as the two large censers in front of the Jingangbaozuota pagoda, part of the Zhenjuesi temple complex in Beijing, and illustrated in situ in New History of World Art. Ming dynasty, Tokyo, 1999, pl. 244. While many of these censers are tripods, modeled after archaic bronze ding, the present pair is reminiscent of bronze gui and pan, which are seldom found of these large proportions.
A much smaller gui lacking the cover and with a heavily splayed foot, in the Musée Cernuschi, is illustrated in Bronzes de la Chine Impériale des Song aux Qing, Paris, 2013, pl. 18, and was included in the Xiqing gujian [Catalogues of antiques in the Xiqing pavilion], which was compiled during the Qianlong period, where it is described as a pan.