Incense burner, Japan

Incense burner, Japan

Incense burner (Japanese: korō) or firebox (Japanese: hibachi)
Unsigned
Nagoya, Japan
c.1865-1870
Overall height 27.9cm
Museum no. 1121-1875

The next major acquisition of cloisonné enamels were in a collection of '27 pieces of Japanese stoneware, enamels etc.' purchased from Siegfried Bing, the Paris-based dealer and entrepreneur. 1,800 francs was paid for this unusual item, which is either a hibachi (brazier) or a korō (incense burner).

While the rims (Japanese: fukurin) of dark silver and the ivory knobs in the shape of lion-dogs (Japanese: shishi) are clearly Japanese, the wiring, enamelling and style of decoration are problematic. The twisted silver wire together with the bat and cloud motifs which are proud of the surface of the vessel all show a strong Korean influence. The pale shiny blue ground and the exotic, or mythical phoenix-like bird, perhaps of the type known in Japanese as a Ho-o, clearly show Chinese influence. Many pieces acquired from Bing present similar problems. On balance, it might be safe to say that this object could represent a fusion of ideas and techniques in the early stages of the development of cloisonné enamels in Japan.