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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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A Chinese Bronze Tripod Censer, 19th Century
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
A Chinese Bronze Tripod Censer, 19th Century
by Topwells
Est: $100- $200
$2256 Bids
A large bronze footed Chinese censor (H:25cm)
Jun 27, 1:00 PM AEST
A large bronze footed Chinese censor (H:25cm)
by Lawsons
Est: AUD200- AUD300
AUD304 Bids
An Antique Chinese Blue & White Censer Depicting Dragon & Flaming Pearl Motifs, Qing Dynasty
Jun 30, 11:00 AM AEST
An Antique Chinese Blue & White Censer Depicting Dragon & Flaming Pearl Motifs, Qing Dynasty
by Theodore Bruce Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: AUD50- AUD100
AUD404 Bids
A Chinese cloisonné and brass censer (H:23cm)
Jun 27, 1:00 PM AEST
A Chinese cloisonné and brass censer (H:23cm)
by Lawsons
Est: AUD300- AUD400
AUD253 Bids
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A Chinese ovoid shaped incense burner depicting six children playing with Maitreya Buddha, 4 in. (10.2 cm) h.
Jun 26, 9:00 AM PDT
A Chinese ovoid shaped incense burner depicting six children playing with Maitreya Buddha, 4 in. (10.2 cm) h.
by Maynards Fine Art & Antiques
Est: $200- $300
$1602 Bids
A CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL TRIPOD CENSER
Jun 30, 11:00 AM JST
A CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL TRIPOD CENSER
by Fukuoka Yumekai Auction
Est: ¥0- ¥0
¥50,0002 Bids
A Chinese green ceramic tripod censor with timber lid and stand
Jul 02, 7:00 PM AEST
A Chinese green ceramic tripod censor with timber lid and stand
by Lawsons
Est: AUD60- AUD80
AUD202 Bids
A Pair of Chinese Carved Stone Foo Dogs Censors
Jun 30, 11:00 AM AEST
A Pair of Chinese Carved Stone Foo Dogs Censors
by Theodore Bruce Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: AUD100- AUD200
AUD602 Bids
A CHINESE ARCHAISTIC IMITATION-BRONZE CERAMIC DING
Jun 23, 3:00 PM AEST
A CHINESE ARCHAISTIC IMITATION-BRONZE CERAMIC DING
by Philips Auctions
Est: AUD100- AUD200
AUD1402 Bids
A Large Finely Carved Chinese Rose Quartz Censer
Jun 29, 12:00 PM EDT
A Large Finely Carved Chinese Rose Quartz Censer
by RB Fine Arts
Est: $400- $800
$902 Bids
Chinese Export Pair of Islamic Cloisonne Censers
Jun 26, 12:00 PM EDT
Chinese Export Pair of Islamic Cloisonne Censers
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$1002 Bids
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A Chinese iron red gilded double handled tripod censer, 9 x 5 in. (22.9 x 12.7 cm.) d.
Jun 26, 9:00 AM PDT
A Chinese iron red gilded double handled tripod censer, 9 x 5 in. (22.9 x 12.7 cm.) d.
by Maynards Fine Art & Antiques
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$1,1002 Bids
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A FINE BRONZE BEAST TOP AND ANIMAL EAR INCENSE BURNER
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
A FINE BRONZE BEAST TOP AND ANIMAL EAR INCENSE BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $160- $240
$801 Bid
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DRAGON PATTERN BEAST-FOOTED INCENSE BURNER
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
DRAGON PATTERN BEAST-FOOTED INCENSE BURNER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $120- $180
$601 Bid
Chinese bronze censer
Jun 22, 3:00 PM PDT
Chinese bronze censer
by U.S. Poly International Auction Gallery
Est: $200- $300
$1001 Bid
Chinese early song white glazed tripod porcelain censer with wood lid
Jun 22, 3:00 PM PDT
Chinese early song white glazed tripod porcelain censer with wood lid
by U.S. Poly International Auction Gallery
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$8001 Bid
COPPER GILDING, FILIGREE ENAMEL, AUSPICIOUS ANIMAL FRAGRANCE
Jun 29, 3:00 PM PDT
COPPER GILDING, FILIGREE ENAMEL, AUSPICIOUS ANIMAL FRAGRANCE
by Mega International Auction
Est: $500- $700
$4001 Bid
A Chinese bronze two-handled censor and cover, Qing Dynasty, 19th century,
Jun 26, 10:00 AM BST
A Chinese bronze two-handled censor and cover, Qing Dynasty, 19th century,
by Cheffins
Est: £200- £300
£1001 Bid
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A FINE TALL HANDLE RUISHOU TOP SQUARE BRONZE INCENSE CENSER
Jun 22, 10:00 AM EDT
A FINE TALL HANDLE RUISHOU TOP SQUARE BRONZE INCENSE CENSER
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $160- $240
$801 Bid
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GILT BRONZE INCENSE BURNER WITH DRAGON HEAD AND BEAST FEET
Jun 22, 10:00 AM EDT
GILT BRONZE INCENSE BURNER WITH DRAGON HEAD AND BEAST FEET
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $160- $240
$801 Bid
Chinese song dynasty longquan-yao porcelain qin room censer
Jun 22, 3:00 PM PDT
Chinese song dynasty longquan-yao porcelain qin room censer
by U.S. Poly International Auction Gallery
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$8001 Bid
Chinese hetian white jade carved censer with lid
Jun 22, 3:00 PM PDT
Chinese hetian white jade carved censer with lid
by U.S. Poly International Auction Gallery
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$2,0001 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Censers


William's Auctions, LLC

William's Auctions, LLC

Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc

Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc

Hotspot Auctions

Hotspot Auctions

Rob Michiels Auctions

Rob Michiels Auctions