An unusual bronze ‘duck’ censer and cover

Zhengde incised mark and of the period, 1506-1521, China

Height: 37.4 cm, 14.7 inches

Well cast as a duck standing on a waisted rectangular base decorated with wave patterns, with the head raised and beak open, with wings forming the detachable cover, finely detailed with naturalistically modelled tail feathers, webbed feet, and incised all over with feather markings, the base of the tail pierced for the release of smoke, the reign mark incised in a line along the time of the opening on the back.


The censer relates to an imperial porcelain duck censer excavated from the Chenghua stratum of the imperial kiln site at Zhushan, Jingdezhen, and illustrated in Legacy of Chenghua, op. cit., p. 156, no C34. It is interesting to note the close similarity of the hollowed body, moulding of the body in two parts, the opened beak exposing the tongue, and the detailed rending of plumage. To drive the smoke up the hollow of the neck, the ceramic version has six concealed holes across the body where the two parts of the censer meet. However the difference with this piece is this has a pierced opening in its back which is characteristic of earlier bronzes.

A&J Speelman Ltd
36A Kensington Square
W8 5HP

Asian Art in London British Antique Dealers Association