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Chinese Censers

Incense burning and censers have been a large part of Chinese and traditional culture since the Neolithic period. Varying in use from perfuming fabrics to being used as offerings to ancestors, these censers served both functional and ornamental purposes.

Some of the earliest excavated censers have been dated back to about 206 B.C. Since then, censers have taken many different forms beyond the simple three-footed round bowl shape. While some took forms of realistic or mythological beasts, others took the form of mountains, or "boshanlu." When boshanlu were lit with incense, the smoke is meant to surround the shape just as clouds would a grand mountain peak.


Quick Facts

  • Most boshanlu were sculpted to represent the mountains of the immortals- particularly Mount Kunlun or Penglai
  • Incense was highly recommended as a remedy for ocular ailments, as a method to tell time, as offerings to deities and ancestors, and as an art form accompanying other leisurely activities
  • In 1979, a beautiful 18th century jade censer was stolen from the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University. The vessel appeared on the market 35 years later in 2014 at an auction house in Hong Kong. The censer has now been returned to its place at the Fogg Art Museum

Recommended Items at Auction

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Vintage Delight 3 Way Gas Burner
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage Delight 3 Way Gas Burner
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
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Chinese Bronze Incense Burner Tripod Pot
Oct 30, 1:00 PM EDT
Chinese Bronze Incense Burner Tripod Pot
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Est: $20- $15,000
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Antique Chinese Parcel Gilt Bronze Incense Burner
Oct 30, 1:00 PM EDT
Antique Chinese Parcel Gilt Bronze Incense Burner
by Kavanagh Auctions
Est: $20- $15,000
$505 Bids
A Decorative Chinese Wood Carving Dragon Censer
Oct 30, 9:30 AM EDT
A Decorative Chinese Wood Carving Dragon Censer
by Luban Antique
Est: $50- $100
$103 Bids
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19c Chinese Bronze & Gold Sensor w Shishi Lion
Nov 07, 12:00 PM EDT
19c Chinese Bronze & Gold Sensor w Shishi Lion
by Neely Auction
Est: $600- $800
$3102 Bids
Large Ghaznavid Period Incense Bowl
Nov 30, 10:00 AM GMT
Large Ghaznavid Period Incense Bowl
by TimeLine Auctions
Est: £2,000- £3,000
£102 Bids
18th Cent. Archaic Spinach Jade Covered Censer
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
18th Cent. Archaic Spinach Jade Covered Censer
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $3,000- $8,000
$1,2002 Bids
Barcelona silver censer, 18th Century.
Oct 28, 4:00 PM CEST
Barcelona silver censer, 18th Century.
by Balclis
Est: €300- €500
€3002 Bids
Chinese Carved Jade Censor
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Chinese Carved Jade Censor
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $100- $1,000
$802 Bids
Chinese Blue & White Porcelain Bombe Censer
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Chinese Blue & White Porcelain Bombe Censer
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $200- $2,000
$1202 Bids
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INTRICATELY CARVED AND PIERCED JADE CENSER AND COVER
Oct 31, 6:00 AM PDT
INTRICATELY CARVED AND PIERCED JADE CENSER AND COVER
by East West Auctions
Est: $6,000- $9,000
$1,0001 Bid
PAIRING OF JADE VESSELS
Oct 29, 10:00 AM CDT
PAIRING OF JADE VESSELS
by Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $50- $100
$251 Bid
Beautiful Chinese green jade carved open censer
Nov 01, 2:00 PM PDT
Beautiful Chinese green jade carved open censer
by International Auction Gallery
Est: $150- $350
$501 Bid
Vintage Chinese 12 Animal Zodiac Mini Brass Censer
Oct 30, 12:00 PM EDT
Vintage Chinese 12 Animal Zodiac Mini Brass Censer
by South Florida Auction & Estate Sale Services
Est: $6- $1,000
$61 Bid
CHINESE BRONZE CENSER, H 3", DIA 9"
Nov 12, 11:00 AM EST
CHINESE BRONZE CENSER, H 3", DIA 9"
by DuMouchelles
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
A Cloisonne Enamel Four-Leg Incense Burner and Cover
Nov 05, 9:00 AM EDT
A Cloisonne Enamel Four-Leg Incense Burner and Cover
by Roswell Auctions
Est: $4,000- $5,000
$8001 Bid
Vintage Chinese Bronze Foo Dog Top Mini Censer
Oct 30, 12:00 PM EDT
Vintage Chinese Bronze Foo Dog Top Mini Censer
by South Florida Auction & Estate Sale Services
Est: $6- $1,000
$61 Bid
Pottery censer. Japan. Meiji period (1868-1912).
Nov 14, 10:00 AM EST
Pottery censer. Japan. Meiji period (1868-1912).
by Tremont Auctions
Est: $400- $600
$2001 Bid
Chinese Fine Carved Amethyst Incense Burner Censer
Nov 17, 12:00 PM EST
Chinese Fine Carved Amethyst Incense Burner Censer
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$501 Bid
Oriental Cloisonne Incense Burner
Oct 28, 10:00 AM EDT
Oriental Cloisonne Incense Burner
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$11 Bid
Asian cast bronze tri leg lidded censer, the cover pierced and cast with a dragon, approx 20cm H
Oct 31, 9:30 AM AEDT
Asian cast bronze tri leg lidded censer, the cover pierced and cast with a dragon, approx 20cm H
by Vickers & Hoad
Est: AUD100- AUD150
AUD801 Bid
A Chinese carved green jade lidded censer with dragon handles and Chi-Long lion finial, 20th century, 
Nov 06, 10:00 AM AEDT
A Chinese carved green jade lidded censer with dragon handles and Chi-Long lion finial, 20th century, 
by Leski Auctions Pty Ltd
Est: AUD120- AUD200
AUD1001 Bid
A Chinese Bronze Incense Burner
Oct 29, 11:00 AM EDT
A Chinese Bronze Incense Burner
by Annabel's Galleries Inc.
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$5001 Bid
A METAL CENSER
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
A METAL CENSER
by Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf
Est: €120- €240
€1200 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Censers


Empire Auction House

Empire Auction House

Merces Gallery LLC

Merces Gallery LLC

Ander's Auction

Ander's Auction

Mega International Auction Inc.

Mega International Auction Inc.