- incense burner
container generally of bronze or pottery, fitted with a perforated lid, in which incense is burnt. Although incense burners were used in Europe, they were far more widespread in the East. In China during the Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220), a type of vessel known as a hill censer (boshan xianglu) was used. It consisted of a shallow, circular pan, in the centre of which was an incense container with a pierced lid constructed as a three-dimensional representation of the Taoist Isles of the Blest. Incense burners of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) were made in two basic forms: a square vessel on four feet, fitted with two handles and a pierced lid, and a circular tripod vessel, also fitted with a perforated lid. If the original lids were lost, it was customary to replace them with wooden lids carved in imitation of the original metal piercing. In Japan in the 19th century a number of large, bronze incense burners were made for export. Their decorative designs, often incorporating dragons, are distinguished by high relief, and the vessels were usually given artificial patinas. See also thurible.
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