A large bronze tripod censer with cover

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A very large bronze tripod censer with cover

China, Qing Dynasty, Late 19th century.

the compressed globular body well-cast with two upright chilong-form handles, the neck decorated with two pair of three-clawed dragons chasing the flaming peal, all supported on three cabriole legs issuing from monster masks terminating in ball and claw feet, the reticulated cover in the form of a large coiled dragon amidst clouds, its head forming the knob, the base cast  with a fifteen-character mark, part of it reads: made in the third-year of Xuande.


Xuande reign marks proliferate on bronze censers but many of these are apocryphal. The Xuande Emperor (1425-1435) was a great patron of Vajrayana Buddhism, commissioning the production of thousands of exquisite ritual and religious bronzes for the altars and halls of the newly constructed Forbidden City as well as to present to Tibetan emissaries. His ten-year reign is considered the peak of Chinese bronze production and the Xuande reign mark’s continued employment gives an insight into the reverence towards the wares he produced.

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