Loading Spinner

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

See all items

Chinese White Jade Dragon Censer Incense Burner
Feb 28, 12:00 PM EST
Chinese White Jade Dragon Censer Incense Burner
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$20010 Bids
Rare Large Antique Chinese Foo Dog Bronze Censor
Mar 03, 10:00 AM MST
Rare Large Antique Chinese Foo Dog Bronze Censor
by Monarch Auction and Estate Services
Est: $0- $0
$506 Bids
Chinese Fujian Creamy Blanc du Chine Lionhead Dehua Censer
Mar 07, 12:00 PM GMT
Chinese Fujian Creamy Blanc du Chine Lionhead Dehua Censer
by Orion Asian Art
Est: £0- £0
£3002 Bids
Antique Chinese Hexagonal Blue And White Porcelain Tripod Censer Base
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Chinese Hexagonal Blue And White Porcelain Tripod Censer Base
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $25- $250
$502 Bids
bp parity badge
GILT BRONZE DRAGON PATTERN BEAST KNOB THREE FOOTED INCENSE BURNER
Mar 02, 11:00 AM EST
GILT BRONZE DRAGON PATTERN BEAST KNOB THREE FOOTED INCENSE BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $120- $180
$601 Bid
bp parity badge
A FINE CLOISONNE ENAMEL LOTUS CARVING INCENSE BURNER
Mar 02, 11:00 AM EST
A FINE CLOISONNE ENAMEL LOTUS CARVING INCENSE BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $160- $240
$801 Bid
bp parity badge
CLOISONNE ENAMEL FLORAL PATTERN DOUBLE PHOENIX EAR BEAST KNOB INCENSE BURNER
Mar 02, 11:00 AM EST
CLOISONNE ENAMEL FLORAL PATTERN DOUBLE PHOENIX EAR BEAST KNOB INCENSE BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $200- $300
$1001 Bid
bp parity badge
GILT BRONZE LONGEVITY DRAGON PATTERN BRONZE INCENSE BURNER
Mar 03, 11:00 AM EST
GILT BRONZE LONGEVITY DRAGON PATTERN BRONZE INCENSE BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $160- $240
$801 Bid
bp parity badge
YELLOW COLOR GLAZED PORCELAIN AROMA BURNER
Mar 03, 11:00 AM EST
YELLOW COLOR GLAZED PORCELAIN AROMA BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $80- $120
$401 Bid
bp parity badge
A FINE RU KILN HOLLOW CARVING PORCELAIN INCENSE BURNER
Mar 03, 11:00 AM EST
A FINE RU KILN HOLLOW CARVING PORCELAIN INCENSE BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
ANTIQUE CHINESE BRONZE FOO DOG INCENSE BURNERS
Mar 02, 10:00 AM EST
ANTIQUE CHINESE BRONZE FOO DOG INCENSE BURNERS
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
Antique Chinese Bronze Foo Dog Censor
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Chinese Bronze Foo Dog Censor
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $25- $250
$251 Bid
bp parity badge
A BRONZE GILT AUSPICIOUS BEAST THREE-LEGGED INCENSE CENSER
Mar 03, 11:00 AM EST
A BRONZE GILT AUSPICIOUS BEAST THREE-LEGGED INCENSE CENSER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $120- $180
$601 Bid
Bronze Censer and Cloisonne Urn
Mar 01, 5:00 PM EST
Bronze Censer and Cloisonne Urn
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$51 Bid
2 PIECE TIBETAN SILVER DRAGON & FOO DOG INCENSE BURNER
Mar 14, 9:00 PM EDT
2 PIECE TIBETAN SILVER DRAGON & FOO DOG INCENSE BURNER
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $400- $600
$2201 Bid
bp parity badge
FINE BRONZE PHOENIX TOP INCENSE BURNER
Mar 02, 11:00 AM EST
FINE BRONZE PHOENIX TOP INCENSE BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $120- $180
$601 Bid
A CHINESE CAST BRONZE CENSER
Feb 28, 9:30 AM GMT
A CHINESE CAST BRONZE CENSER
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £90- £180
£451 Bid
JADE INLAID GILT BRONZE CLOISONNE FANGDING CENSER
Mar 15, 9:00 AM EDT
JADE INLAID GILT BRONZE CLOISONNE FANGDING CENSER
by Lauren Gallery
Est: $600- $900
$3001 Bid
bp parity badge
A FINELY CARVED BRONZE INCENSE BURNER
Mar 02, 11:00 AM EST
A FINELY CARVED BRONZE INCENSE BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $60- $90
$301 Bid
bp parity badge
A FINE BAMBOO PATTERN THREE LEGGED INCENSE CENSER WITH REDWOOD LID
Mar 02, 11:00 AM EST
A FINE BAMBOO PATTERN THREE LEGGED INCENSE CENSER WITH REDWOOD LID
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $400- $600
$2001 Bid
bp parity badge
A FINE SMALL BRONZE BUDDHA FIGURE INCENSE BURNER
Mar 03, 11:00 AM EST
A FINE SMALL BRONZE BUDDHA FIGURE INCENSE BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
Pair Chinese Mixed Metal Elephant Pagoda Censers
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
Pair Chinese Mixed Metal Elephant Pagoda Censers
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $50- $500
$251 Bid
A large bronze censer China, Qing, 18th century
Mar 16, 10:00 AM CET
A large bronze censer China, Qing, 18th century
by Baias Arte
Est: €300- €400
€2501 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Censers


William's Auctions, LLC

William's Auctions, LLC

Merces Gallery LLC

Merces Gallery LLC

Hannam's Auctioneers

Hannam's Auctioneers

Mega International Auction

Mega International Auction