- Gallery Text
By the Eastern Han period (when the Han capital was located in present-day Luoyang, Henan province), Chinese potters had discovered the efficacy of using lead-fluxed glazes for their ceramic burial wares. As a fluxing agent, lead oxide lowers the melting point of a glaze, reducing the amount of fuel required for firing. Copper and iron metal oxides were added to the glaze to impart the green and brown colors reminiscent of bronzes with different patinas; they were thus especially useful for glazing ceramic wares that imitated more expensive bronze ritual vessels. The decorative elements on these objects—mystical mountains with swirling clouds, mythical beasts, immortal figures, and bear-form supports—are associated with cosmological realms of immortals and closely replicate the relief ornamentation on sumptuous Han bronzes. Although the tombs of the most wealthy and important Han personages continued to be furnished luxuriously, ceramic reproductions of expensive burial goods and tomb sculptures representing animals, servants, and entertainers became acceptable substitutes for real objects and living creatures.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Mountain form censer (boshanlu)
- Other Titles
- Original Language Title: 漢 绿釉陶博山爐
- Work Type
- 1st century BCE – 1st century CE
- Creation Place: East Asia, China
- Han dynasty, 206 BCE-220 CE
- Persistent Link
Level 1, Room 1600, Early Chinese Art, Arts of Ancient China from the Bronze Age to the Golden Age
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- Physical Descriptions
- Earthenware with green lead glaze
- Lead glaze
- H. 23 x Diam. 14.8 cm (9 1/16 x 5 13/16 in.)
- [J. J. Lally & Co., New York, March 2001] sold; to Walter C. Sedgwick Foundation, Woodside, CA (2001-2006), partial gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2006.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Partial gift of the Walter C. Sedgwick Foundation and partial purchase through the Alvan Clark Eastman Bequest Fund
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
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- Incense burner with conical lid in the form of a mountain peak, bowl-shaped receptacle supported on a short stem, and attached circular tray as the base; the cover pierced with triangular openings around the side and decorated with hunters pursuing animals, including tigers, bears, and large reptilian beasts; red earthenware with lead-fluxed, emerald-green glaze.
- Compare to:
(1) Green lead-glazed boshanlu censer of closely related form and decoration excavated in 1984 from a Xin dynasty (9-23 CE) brick tomb near Mount Tieta in Xin’an county, Henan province. See Wenwu [Cultural Relics] 5 (2002): 34-35, figs. 4 and 6.
(2) Censer of similar form and decoration in the Art Institute of Chicago collection attributed to the Western Han period (accession no. 1924.239). See Kiyohiko Munakata, Sacred Mountains in Chinese Art (Champaign, Ill: Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois Press, 1991), cat. 23, pp. 78-79.
(3) Censer of similar form and decoration attributed to the Western Han period in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco collection (accession no. B60P203). See He Li, Chinese Ceramics: The New Standard Guide (London: Thames and Hudson, 1996), no. 55, pp. 71 and 111.
- Exhibition History
32Q: 1600 Early China II, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050
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