The present censer is carved from a particularly striking jadeite stone streaked with vibrant emerald-green inclusions. Jadeite was known in China during the Ming Dynasty but was not generally accepted as a material for carvings until the latter part of the Qianlong reign in the late eighteenth century. A generic jade material from Burma, jadeite is distinct from nephrite in appearance and texture, with a brilliant spectrum of colors, and as such, jadeite was of historical importance, largely for the development of jade as jewellery in China. During the later nineteenth century, the glass-like translucency of the rarest emerald-green-colored jadeite came to be prized by the ladies of the Qing court, led by the formidable Empress Dowager Cixi herself. From then on, gem-quality jadeite became synonymous with status and sophistication.
Compare the present censer to an example with similar emerald-green inclusions in the stone, sold at Christie's, Hong Kong, 30 November 2011, lot 3270. See, also, a lavender and emerald-green jadeite tripod censer and cover in the Baur Collection, Geneva, illustrated by Pierre-F. Schneeberger in The Baur Collection Geneva: Chinese Jades and Other Hardstones, Geneva, 1976, no. B 64.