Lot 214. Property from an important West Coast private collection. A rare silver reticulated spherical censer, Tang dynasty (618-907). Diameter 5.5 cm. Lot Sold 44,450 USD (Estimate 20,000 - 30,000 USD). © Sotheby's 2023
Provenance: Christie's London, 9th June 1997, lot 17.
Exhibited: Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, 2002-2023 (on loan).
Note: Silver censers of this type, consisting of two openwork hemispheres with a freely moving incense bowl inside were greatly valued by the imperial household and the aristocracy of the Tang dynasty. Han Wei in 'Gold and Silver Vessels of the Tang Period', Orientations, July 1994, p. 31, notes that 'when a crown prince took an imperial concubine, he would usually present her with an incense burner, and protocol demanded that the pairs of attendants leading an imperial procession held incense burners in their hands'.
A related censer, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, was included in the China Institute's exhibition Early Chinese Gold and Silver, China House Gallery, New York, 1971, cat. no. 41. Compare also two related examples from the Carl Kempe Collection, first sold in our London rooms, 14th May 2008, lots 56 and 57, and later at Christie's New York, 12th September 2019, lots 552 and 540, respectively.
Sotheby's. Vestiges of Ancient China, New York, 19 September 2023