Patinated Chinese Bronze Figural Censer


Chinese patinated bronze censer

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A rather unusual, but rather striking, patinated bronze censer.

Traditionally a censer is an incense burner particularly associated with religious ceremonies, in this case however we feel there is more of a decorative or symbolic essence than practical. The censer takes the form of a fish – probably a carp – with a reading monk – representing the ceremony – astride its scaled back. The lower fins of the fish are set in highly stylised waves which seem to fit the art nouveau period (late 19th/early 20th century) this censer comes from; although that may confirm that this is a decorative piece made for the export or tourist market.

The monk figure covers the aperture where the incense would be burned and appears a little risque as he has a lower appendage which essentially is used to hold him into the body of the fish: but from certain angles…  …he also has what appears to be a cartouche on his back which may be an unreadable maker’s mark or simply a remnant of the bronze casting process. This is a delightful piece brimming with character and the patinated bronze finish gives it a timeless feel.


in very good condition for its age. Good heavy bronze with rich patination, although the detail is a little indistinct in places whether through years of handling or a much used mould is uncertain. The piece is also a little off centre so when the monk is fixed it can be a little off balance – but is fine as an ornamental piece


  • Fish – 15 x 7 x 4 cm (6.25 x 2.75 x 1.75 inches)
  • Monk 7.5 cm tall (2 inches)

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