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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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Chinese Guan Style Celadon Porcelain Censer Bowl
Nov 30, 11:00 AM EST
Chinese Guan Style Celadon Porcelain Censer Bowl
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$3756 Bids
Chinese Bronze Shang Dynasty Style Censer
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
Chinese Bronze Shang Dynasty Style Censer
by Caza Sikes
Est: $150- $250
$1605 Bids
A HARDSTONES INLAID CLOISONNE ENAMEL INCENSE BURNER
Dec 04, 9:30 AM EST
A HARDSTONES INLAID CLOISONNE ENAMEL INCENSE BURNER
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $5,000- $7,000
$1,3003 Bids
A CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL INCENSE BURNER
Dec 04, 9:30 AM EST
A CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL INCENSE BURNER
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $5,000- $7,000
$1,2003 Bids
A CHINESE CARVED CELADON JADE CENSER
Dec 14, 9:00 AM CST
A CHINESE CARVED CELADON JADE CENSER
by Jackson's International
Est: $200- $300
$2253 Bids
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CHINESE BRONZE CENSER Late 19th Century Height 4”. Width across handles 5".
Dec 06, 9:30 AM EST
CHINESE BRONZE CENSER Late 19th Century Height 4”. Width across handles 5".
by Eldred's
Est: $600- $800
$3253 Bids
EIN GOLDGEFLECKTER WEIHRAUCHBRENNER AUS BRONZE
Dec 08, 10:00 AM CET
EIN GOLDGEFLECKTER WEIHRAUCHBRENNER AUS BRONZE
by Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf
Est: €300- €600
€3302 Bids
Chinesisches Räuchergefäß.
Dec 02, 10:00 AM CET
Chinesisches Räuchergefäß.
by Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1602 Bids
Antique Chinese Carved Hardstone Dragon Censer
Dec 06, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Chinese Carved Hardstone Dragon Censer
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $50- $500
$752 Bids
Chinese Porcelain Censers, Signed C. 19th.c., H 4'' Dia. 6'' 2 pcs
Dec 14, 11:00 AM EST
Chinese Porcelain Censers, Signed C. 19th.c., H 4'' Dia. 6'' 2 pcs
by DuMouchelles
Est: $150- $250
$802 Bids
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Chinese gilded bronze lotus incense burner, Qing dynasty
Dec 04, 11:00 AM EST
Chinese gilded bronze lotus incense burner, Qing dynasty
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $4,000- $10,000
$2,2001 Bid
A CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL INCENSE BURNER
Dec 04, 9:30 AM EST
A CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL INCENSE BURNER
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $10,000- $20,000
$2,0001 Bid
A CHINESE FINE KINGFISHER FEATHER DECORATED INCENSE BURNER
Dec 04, 9:30 AM EST
A CHINESE FINE KINGFISHER FEATHER DECORATED INCENSE BURNER
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $800- $1,000
$2001 Bid
A LARGE ARCHAISTIC CAST IRON TRIPOD CENSER, MING DYNASTY
Dec 10, 11:00 AM CET
A LARGE ARCHAISTIC CAST IRON TRIPOD CENSER, MING DYNASTY
by Galerie Zacke
Est: €400- €800
€4001 Bid
A SET OF FIVE CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL ALTAR ITEMS
Dec 04, 9:30 AM EST
A SET OF FIVE CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL ALTAR ITEMS
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $15,000- $25,000
$3,5001 Bid
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BRÛLE-PARFUM COUVERT EN JADÉITE Chine, fin de la dynastie Qing (1644-1911)
Dec 06, 2:00 PM CET
BRÛLE-PARFUM COUVERT EN JADÉITE Chine, fin de la dynastie Qing (1644-1911)
by Artcurial
Est: €5,000- €8,000
€5,0001 Bid
A CLOISONNE FLOWERS LIDDED CENSER WITH DOUBLE FISH HANDLE
Jan 03, 9:00 AM EST
A CLOISONNE FLOWERS LIDDED CENSER WITH DOUBLE FISH HANDLE
by Roswell Auctions
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0001 Bid
Antique Large Chinese Cloisonne Censer, 20" high, 19th century
Dec 10, 10:00 AM EST
Antique Large Chinese Cloisonne Censer, 20" high, 19th century
by Washingtonian Auction
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$5001 Bid
Cloisonne Enamel Four-Legged Censer
Dec 09, 1:00 PM PST
Cloisonne Enamel Four-Legged Censer
by China Arts Auction
Est: $6,500- $7,500
$8501 Bid
A DING-SHAPED BRONZE TRIPOD CENSER
Dec 06, 9:30 AM CET
A DING-SHAPED BRONZE TRIPOD CENSER
by Nagel Auction
Est: €300- €500
€3001 Bid
20TH C. CHINESE ENAMELED NICKEL SILVER CENSOR
Nov 29, 3:00 PM EST
20TH C. CHINESE ENAMELED NICKEL SILVER CENSOR
by Omnia Auctions
Est: $60- $80
$451 Bid
Old Chinese Bronze Censer with Three Legs and Bronze Stand, Xuande Marked
Dec 10, 10:00 AM EST
Old Chinese Bronze Censer with Three Legs and Bronze Stand, Xuande Marked
by Washingtonian Auction
Est: $800- $1,200
$501 Bid
Rare Antique Chinese Bronze Censer, 16th-17th C, Ming period. "Fei Yun Ge" mark
Dec 10, 10:00 AM EST
Rare Antique Chinese Bronze Censer, 16th-17th C, Ming period. "Fei Yun Ge" mark
by Washingtonian Auction
Est: $3,000- $5,000
$501 Bid
A SPECTACULAR CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL INCENSE BURNER.THE BASE MARKED WITH DA MING XUAN DE NIAN ZHI SIX-CHARACTER.JOO7.
Dec 03, 11:00 AM EST
A SPECTACULAR CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL INCENSE BURNER.THE BASE MARKED WITH DA MING XUAN DE NIAN ZHI SIX-CHARACTER.JOO7.
by Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.
Est: $6,000- $12,000
$1,9001 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Censers


Empire Auction House

Empire Auction House

Merces Gallery LLC

Merces Gallery LLC

Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

Mega International Auction

Mega International Auction