PROPERTY FROM THE BERGER COLLECTION EDUCATIONAL TRUST, SOLD TO BENEFIT FUTURE PHILANTHROPY
To judge from the inscription xiang hua gong yang, a phrase borrowed from the Diamond Sutra, the piece was probably commissioned together with a pair of flower vases to be donated to a Buddhist temple to commemorate a special occasion.
Tong Yihua lists another white incense burner with animal-mask design in the Zhongguo lidai taoci kuanshi huiji, Hong Kong, 1984, p. 54, with the same inscription but dated to the thirty-second year of Khubilai Khan's zhiyuan reign period (equivalent to 1295), which in fact was the first year of his grandson's reign, a year after his death, as well as a white flower vase dated equivalent to 1282.
Another Ding piece dated to the Yuan dynasty is a very large vase with fixed ring handles from the Eumorfopoulos collection, now in the British Museum, illustrated in Hobson, The George Eumorfopoulos Collection Catalogue of Chinese, Corean and Persian Pottery and Porcelain, vol. 3, 1926, pl. XXVII, no. C132, which is dated by an ink inscription in accordance with 1350.
In the Yuan dynasty, ceramic altar vessels of bronze form were made by various kilns, particularly those at Longquan and Jingdezhen, yet it is rare to find a Ding piece so closely imitating a contemporary metal incense burner. This censer shares its square quatrefoil lobed form with a bronze censer of the same period, perhaps also with related archaistic decoration (degraded), recovered from a ship wrecked off the coast of Korea around 1323, and included in the Special Exhibition of Cultural Relics Found off the Sinan Coast, National Museum of Korea, Seoul, 1977, cat. no. 270.
The dating of this lot is consistent with the result of a thermoluminescence test, Oxford sample no. B66j10.
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