Lidded incense burner (xianglu) with geometric decoration and narrative scenes


Historical period(s)
Early Western Han dynasty, ca. 2nd century BCE
Bronze with gold, silver, turquoise, and carnelian inlay
H x W: 17.9 x 10 cm (7 1/16 x 3 15/16 in)
China, Henan or Hebei province
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 18: Art and Industry: China's Ancient Houma Foundry
Metalwork, Vessel

Incense burner

animal, casting, China, Daoism, incense, inlay, landscape, Western Han dynasty (206 BCE - 9 CE), WWII-era provenance

To 1947
Jun Tsei Tai (1911-1992), Shanghai, to February 1947 [1]

C.T. Loo & Company, New York, purchased from Jun Tsei Tai in February 1947 [2]

From 1947
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C.T. Loo & Company on July 8, 1947 [3]


[1] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. NYL-7/982: "Bronze hill-censer on a wide spreading foot with three dragons in relief inlaid with gold, silver and various stones. Body decorated with bands of abstract motives in gold, silver with turquoise and rubis. Cover with fine rows of hills with hunting scenes, fighting animals and birds in gold, silver and hard stones inlaid, many stones missing Late Chou," Frank Caro Archive, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, copy in object file. According to an annotation on the stockcard, Loo purchased the bronze from J. T. Tai.

[2] See C. T. Loo's stockcard cited in note 1.

[3] See C. T. Loo's invoice, date July 8, 1947, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

Jun Tsei Tai 1911 - 1992
C.T. Loo & Company active 1908-1950

Published References
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 21.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 68-69.
  • Jeannine Auboyer Roger Goepper. The Oriental World. Landmarks of the World's Art New York. pl. 58.
  • Michel Beurdeley. L'amateur chinois des Han au XXe siecle. Aspects de l'art Fribourg. pl. 2.
  • Capolavori nei secoli: Enciclopedia di tutte i popoli in tutti i tempi. 12 vols., Milan, 1961 - 1964. p. 26.
  • Susan N. Erickson. The Freer Gallery of Art Boshanlu: Answers to A.G. Wenley's Questions. fig. 1.
  • Susan N. Erickson. Boshanlu: Mountain Censers of the Western Han Period: A Typological and Critical Analysis. vol. 42 New York and Honolulu, HI. pp. 6-28.
  • Charles Patrick Fitzgerald. The Horizon History of China. New York. p. 76.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. pl. 14.
  • Rene Grousset. Chinese Art and Culture. New York. p. 72.
  • John Keay. The Spice Route. London. p. 137.
  • Michael Loewe Eva Wilson. Everyday Life in Early Imperial China: During the Han Period, 202 BC-AD 220. Indianapolis. p. 47, fig. 11.
  • Michele Pirazzoli-t'Serstevens. The Han Dynasty. New York. p. 95.
  • Michael Sullivan. An Introduction to Chinese Art. Los Angeles and Berkeley, CA. fig. A3.
  • Michael Sullivan. A Short History of Chinese Art. Berkeley. fig. 17.
  • Robert K.G. Temple. China: Land of Discovery. Willingborough. p. 179.
  • Tseng Yu. Lung hu tou [char]. No. 42 Taipei, September 1986. p. 85.
  • Vincent Virga Library of Congress. Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations., 1st ed. New York. p. 53, pl. 42.
  • A.G. Wenley. The Question of the po-shan-hsiang-lu. vol. 3 Honolulu, 1948-1949. pp. 5-12.
  • Robert Dale Jacobsen. Inlaid Bronzes of Pre-Imperial China: A Classical Tradition and Its Later Revivals. 2 vols. Ann Arbor. pls. 218-219.
  • Joe Dan Lowry Joe P. Lowry. Turquoise: The World Story of a Fascinating Gemstone. Layton, UT. p. 26.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum