Incense Burner in the Shape of a Courtier’s Hat with Scrolling Peonies


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The complex form of this incense burner is based on the Heian-period courtier hat (kanmuri) that was part of the formal court dress (sokutai) of aristocrats. The black-lacquered hat has a low, flat cap, a tall knob at the back for the topknot, two crossbars attached to the two sides of the knob to stabilize the hat, and a long, flat tail in the back. With the ubiquitous appearance of courtiers’ hats in Genji painting and the numerous references to incense in the tale, it was an ingenious idea to create an incense burner in the kanmuri shape.

Nabeshima-type celadon vessels were covered with a thick layer or two of glaze, creating elegant high-quality wares, enriched here by relief peonies and scrolling vines that decorate the censer’s body.

Incense Burner in the Shape of a Courtier’s Hat with Scrolling Peonies, Porcelain with celadon glaze (Hizen ware, Nabeshima type), Japan

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