A pair of parcel gilt-bronze duck-shaped incense burners and covers Ming Dynasty (4)

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Lot 206
A pair of parcel gilt-bronze duck-shaped incense burners and covers
Ming Dynasty

Sold for £ 18,812 (US$ 25,079) inc. premium
A pair of parcel gilt-bronze duck-shaped incense burners and covers
Ming Dynasty
Each finely cast in the shape of a duck with the head slightly raised as if calling out and small beady eyes framed by long sinuous feathers defining the round body supporting their gracefully curved slender necks, adorned with finely incised layers of triangular and circular feathers backed by a further array of feathers fanning out of their tail, all supported on a sturdy webbed foot, the other leg tucked underneath their stomach. Each 26cm (10 1/4in) high. (4).

Footnotes

  • 明 銅鎏金寶鴨式薰爐一對

    Incense burners shaped as ducks were made in China from at least the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). See a bronze duck incense burner, Han dynasty, of similar form to the present piece, in the Portland Art Museum, illustrated by D.Jenkins, Mysterious Spirits, Strange Beasts, Earthly Delights: Early Chinese Art from the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Collection, Portland, 2005, pp.80-81.

    During the Ming dynasty, incense burners in the form of ducks appear to have been popular. The 'One Hundred Lyric Poems of the Yuan Court' (Yuan gong ci yibai shou 元宮詞一百首) by Zhu Youdun (朱有燉), dated 1406, mentions 'The gold duck burns the remaining midnight fragrance; Only then do the ladies of the Imperial family try on the Yue-woven skirts'. A further poem by the Ming scholar and Grand Secretary, Jin Youzi (金幼孜 1368-1431), included in 'Viewing Lanterns on the Lantern Festival' (Yuanxi ci wumen guandeng 元夕賜午門觀燈) and recorded in the Jin wen jing ji, vol.4 in Qianding siku quanshu, mentions that, on the occasion of the banquet held by the emperor during the Lantern Festival at the beginning of the Ming dynasty, 'Auspicious portents of lovely smoke rose forth from the golden duck censers'. This poem clearly suggests that gilt-bronze duck incense burner were used at court banquets from as early as the beginning of the 15th century.

    See a related bronze duck incense burner, Ming dynasty, in the Tokugawa Art Museum Collection, Nagoya, illustrated in The Shogun Age Exhibition: From the Tokugawa Art Museum, Japan, Tokyo, 1983, p.107.

    Compare with a related bronze 'duck' incense burner, Ming dynasty, which was sold at Bonhams New York, 16 September 2013, lot 8103.
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A pair of parcel gilt-bronze duck-shaped incense burners and covers Ming Dynasty (4)
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