Although square or rectangular stands are more economical to produce, the round incense stand may be placed alone in the center of a room or garden courtyard to be admired from all sides. The 'cabriole leg,' a French-derived term, was adopted by the West to describe the elegant curve of what the Chinese had long known as the 'elephant trunk,' 'praying mantis leg,' or 'dragonfly leg' form. By any name, many scholars believe the shape to have been transmitted to the West during the late 17th/early 18th centuries, as discussed in Wang Shixiang and C. Evarts, Masterpieces from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, Chicago and San Francisco, 1995, p. 110.
The dating of the present lot is confirmed by a lacquer example with a very similar upper half, inscribed "Ta Ming Ch'ung Cheng Ting Ch'ou Nien Chih" dating it to 1637, illustrated by Lee Yu-kuan in Oriental Lacquer Art, New York, 1972, p.323. Compare also a similar huanghuali round incense stand illustrated by S. Handler, "The Incense Stand and the Scholar's Mystical State", Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, Winter, 1990, p. 6, fig. 5 where the author discusses further examples of this form and its function. See, also, a huanghuali round incense stand with a solid circular base sold in these rooms, Important Chinese Furniture, Formerly the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture Collection, 19 September 1996, lot 48.