Plain gilt censer in the shape of Qilin, Buddhistic lions and other beasts have been made since the Ming dynasty, yet such solidly cast objects so colourfully inlaid are extremely rare.
It is interesting to compare other known objects of this type. The beast in the British Museum has been illustrated on the cover of the Catalogue for the Collection of Oriental Antiquities, London 1989, where it has been dated to the 18th Century. Soame Jenyns, in an earlier book on the Chinese Collection in the British Museum, illustrated it and suggested a 15th Century date. One of a pair of qilin censers and covers with turquoise inlay in the Shenyang Palace Museum, is illustrated by Robert L.Thorp in 'Son of Heaven, Imperial Arts of China', Catalogue, Seattle 1988, no.33, p.40. The censer in the National Palace Museum, Taibei, has been illustrated in 'Gugong Lidai Xiangju Mulu' (A Special Exhibition of Incense Burners and Perfumers Throughout the Dynasties), Catalogue, Taibei 1994, no.119; as well as 'Jintong Fojiao Gongju Tezhan' (A Special Exhibition of Buddhist Gilt Votive Objects), Catalogue, Taibei 1995, no.21.
Compare also the pair of Qilin censers with Qianlong marks and enamel inlay in the place of hardstones, in the Victoria & Albert Museum, one illustrated by Stephen W.Bushell in Chinese Art II, London 1919, inv.no.545-1903, fig.96, p.79.