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A RARE SILVER SPHERICAL CENSER
A RARE SILVER SPHERICAL CENSER
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A RARE SILVER SPHERICAL CENSER

TANG DYNASTY (AD 618-907)

Details
A RARE SILVER SPHERICAL CENSER
TANG DYNASTY (AD 618-907)
The globular censer is comprised of two hinged, openwork half-spheres, the upper half decorated with a design of two pairs of parrots facing each other as they pick at grapes in the midst of scrolling, leafy vines, the lower half with scrolling, leafy vines bearing flowers and fruit. The interior is fitted with a gimbaled system of two silver rings holding a gilt-bronze hemispherical bowl that remains upright irrespective of the movement of the outer sphere, and the censer is suspended on a hooked chain.
2 in. (5 cm.) diam.; weight 46 g
Provenance
Dr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK97.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver, 14 May 2008, lot 56.
Literature
Bo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 97.
Han Wei, Hai nei wai Tangdai jin yin qi cuibian [Tang Gold and Silver in Chinese and overseas collections], Xi'an, 1989, pl. 292.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 99.
Qi Dongfang, Tangdai jin yin qi yan jiu [Research on Tang gold and silver], Beijing, 1999, pl. 92.
Exhibited
Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 97.

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Olivia Hamilton (高麗娜)
Olivia Hamilton (高麗娜) Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art

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Lot Essay

A censer of this type unearthed in 1970, Hejiacun, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, is illustrated in Selected Treasures from Hejiacun Tang Hoard, Shaanxi History Museum, Wenwu, 2003, pp. 222-25. and again by Carol Michaelson in Gilded Dragons: Buried Treasures from China's Golden Ages, British Museum, 1999, pp. 111-12, no. 73. The author notes that four censers of this type were also found in the hoard at the Famen Temple, also near Xi'an. Other censers of this type with related decoration include one in the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City, illustrated by Jan Fontein and Tung Wu in Unearthing China's Past, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1973, p. 178, no. 91 (fig. 1); one formerly in the Hakutsuru Art Museum, included in the exhibition, Tang, Eskenazi, London, 1987, no. 1; and one in the collection of Pierre Uldry illustrated in Chinesisches Gold und Silber, Zurich, 1994, no. 201. The design on these censers is different from that of the present example, which reflects the variation of designs that can be found on censers of this type.

For further discussion of silver censers of this type and their gimbaled mechanism, see the footnote to lot 540.

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