Jade censer

Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368--1644)
Height: 5.5 cm, Length: 12.3 cm, Width: 7.9 cm

A censer is a display piece that the Chinese placed in the study or on a Buddhist altar for the burning of incense. On the exterior of this censer, there are plum blossoms complete with leaves and branches, all exquisitely carved in low relief. The two handles are carved in the shape of powerful hornless dragons. The jade knob, inlaid in the sandalwood cover, is carved into the shape of a mandarin duck holding a lotus flower in its beak. The characters Tzu Kang appear on the base carved in intaglio seal script. Fashioned with elegance and refined craftsmanship, this vessel is a perfect example of late Ming style. Traces of a blade are clearly visible on the Tzu Kang mark, making it very similar to the late Ming dynasty Lu Tzu-kang style.

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