This ceramic object covered in cinnabar lacquer is a unique work of art that features an intricate design. It depicts three pavilions and scholars seated on terraces, surrounded by various items such as flowers, jars, pine trees, prunus trees, and plantain. The lacquer covers the incense burner’s body, rim, and feet, with a design that stands out against a brocade ground within squared borders. The inverted rim has a larger band of key-frets, while the foot rim has a band of lappets. The feet of the burner are in the form of “ruyi” heads (a traditional Chinese motif or a curved decorative scepter that symbolises “fulfillment of desires”). The interior and base reveal the original celadon ceramic base of the vessel.
During the Ming Dynasty, the government established an official institution to promote the development of Chinese lacquerware, while private handcrafters also thrived. The most common category of lacquerware during this period was red lacquerware. The incense burner showcased by Rasti Fine Art is a product from the Hongzhi (1488-1505) to Zhengde (1506-1521) period, created using the tihong technique. This technique involves painting the surface with multiple layers of lacquer and carving relief designs into it. The band on the lacquer burner is a carving made using the tihong technique.
This incense burner was previously owned by John Sparks Ltd (1890 – 1992), UK; Michael Gillingham (1933 – 1999), UK; and a private English collection.