A number of censers of comparable size and design have been published reflecting the Qing emperors' strong interest in tantric Buddhism. Compare a circular censer decorated in shallow relief with the Eight Buddhist Emblems illustrated by R. Keverne, Jade, London, 1991, p. 150, fig. 52. However, the elaborate handles and unusually detailed grooved loose rings on the present censer are extremely rare and indicate the very highest quality imperial workmanship.
The Eight Buddhist Emblems, and a brief suggestion of their meaning, are as follows:
the Wheel of Law (fulun), the inexorable expansion of The Buddha's teaching; the Conch Shell (luo), majesty, felicitous journey, the voice of the Buddha; the Umbrella (san), spiritual authority, reverence, purity; the Canopy (gai), royal grace; the Lotus (hua), purity, truthfulness in adversity; the Vase (ping), Eternal harmony, the receptacle for lustral water, the nectar of immortality; the Paired Fish (shuangyu), conjugal happiness, fertility, protection, spritual liberation; the Endless Knot (panchang), eternity.