Incense Burner in Shape of Lion (one of a pair)

Period: Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

Date: early 14th century

Culture: China

Medium: Porcelain with brown and raised decoration under celadon glaze (Jingdezhen Qingbai ware)

Dimensions: H. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1934

Accession Number: 34.113.2a, b


In this winsome pair of incense burners that typify the penchant for increasingly elaborate wares in the Yuan period, we see a skillfully orchestrated mix of decorative techniques. The beautifully articulated growling lions with their flowing manes and carefully fashioned features are fully modeled; their bulging eyes are punctuated with iron oxide. The mold-impressed floral sprays on the six lotus-petal panels of the cuplike containers are all different; while they are rather indistinct, a lotus and peony blossom can be made out. Finally, the potter has carved pendant overlapping lotus petals on the top register of the hexagonal bases, and has finished the feet (in a surprisingly careless manner) in a shape that distantly resembles the "cloud-collar-point" motif.