A black lacquered wood incense stand, xiangji

元至明早期   黑漆香几

The stand is well proportioned with an almost square top with raised moulded “drip edge” above a recessed high waist with pierced taohuan panels with red-lacquered beading, all above the widely flared “cloud collar” apron, also with red-lacquered beading. The four cabriole legs taper to sharply upturned points, supported on small red-lacquered blocks on a base of conforming shape with a shaped apron and four scroll feet.

The generous proportions and harmonious interplay between the square forms of the top and base and the dynamic “S” shapes of the legs are characteristic of the lacquerwork of Shanxi province. Curtis Evarts, in “New Directions in Chinese Furniture Connoisseurship: Early Traditional Furniture”, illustrates a very similar example to the present stand, p. 54, fig. 7, from the collection of C. L. Ma, Beijing, dateable to between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. The author also shows a Yuan dynasty woodblock print in which a comparable incense stand appears. The same stand is illustrated and further discussed in Curtis Evarts, C. L. Ma Collection: Traditional Chinese Furniture from the Greater Shanxi Region, cat. no. 97.

The apron on the present stand is of “cloud collar” form. The “cloud collar” is a symbol of ancient origin representing through its four shaped projections the extents of “heaven” in the four directions. Combined with the square elements of the top and base, representing “earth”, the whole stand represents the entire cosmos: very fitting for the burning of fine incense placed in a censer in the middle of the top. For a discussion of the “cloud collar”, see Schuyler Cammann, “The Symbolism of the Cloud Collar Motif” in The Art Bulletin, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 1-9.

Dimensions: Height: 84 cm, 33½ inches; Width: 63.5 cm, 25 inches; Depth: 55.9 cm, 22 inches

Date: Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) or early Ming dynasty (1368-1644), 13th-15th century

Stock No. 1724

Price: On Request