The present censer is most closely comparable to cloisonne censers of very similar form dated to the early 15th century. Compare with two cloisonne examples of very similar form and dated to the early 15th century illustrated by H. Garner, Chinese and Japanese Cloisonne Enamels, Oxford, 1977, pls. 19A and 17A. Another early 15th century cloisonne example of related form with identical lion masks adorning the feet was sold at Christie's London, 14-16th December 1983, lot 353.
The fine, solid casting of the vessel coupled with the Buddhist imagery of the double vajra on the base further corroborate a Yongle or Xuande dating for this censer.
It is clear that Emperor Yongle was a fervent supporter of Buddhism, as indicated by literary sources, and by the numerous ceramics of the period with Buddhist references, or decorated with Buddhist motifs. He also had strong ties to the Mongol military elite, who were adherents of Lamaist Buddhism and it appears that he continued to practice this form of Buddhism throughout his lifetime. The succeeding Xuande emperor was equally devout and during his reign the number of Tibetan lamas who came to reside in the monasteries in the Chinese capital rose to record numbers. The Yongle and Xuande emperors commissioned gilt bronzes images and ritual objects of this type both for personal religious practice and as gifts for the Tibetan religious emissaries whose Vajrayana Buddhism they followed.