A Very Rare Bronze Incense Burner decorated with designs of foliated dragon and lion-headed handles

Ming Dynasty

12 (H) x 22.5 (W) cm

Makara-typed dragons, with coiled elongated nose, foliate tail and lotus in the mouth, were often depicted in various mediums including porcelain, enamel and textile during the 15th to 16th century. c.f. a bowl with similar design, mark and period of Chenghua, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Ch'eng-Hua Porcelain Ware, Taipei, 2003, p.44, no.18. Makara-typed dragon designs continued to be used on porcelain in the 16th century, but they became less bold and vigorous as compared with those depicted on Ming imperial ware.
Mr Brian McElney, renowned connoisseur in Chinese art and Founder of The Museum of East Asian Art in Bath, U.K., is of the opinion that the way the claws were depicted on the censer would place the date as pre-Chenghua and probably Xuande, in his email to K. Y. Ng on 16 January 2020. (see Brian McEleny, “The Foliated Dragons”, HK OCS Bulletin, no.1, 1975, p.54)