Incense box


British Museum

British Museum

In Japan, the appreciation of incense was an art in itself, associated both with the Tea Ceremony and flower arrangement (ikebana). Incense burners and containers consequently had to conform to the general concepts of 'tea taste', though other styles of burner could be used on different occasions.

This box is made to look like a stone on which maple leaves, a Japanese symbol of Autumn, have fallen. The texture and colour scheme would also have produced an autumnal mood fitting for the occasion. The Banko kilns were founded by the potter Nunami Rōzan (1718-77) who often imitated the work of Kenzan (1663-1743) the potter brother of the great Rimpa artist Kōrin. Certainly the freedom and boldness of the design, combined with the poetic sentiment, suggests the artistic line of Kenzan.

The inside of the lid is inscribed with a poem but it has become illegible during firing.

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  • Title: Incense box
  • Date Created: 1750/1850
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 4.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: glazed; incised
  • Registration number: 1954,0417.15
  • Production place: Made in Banko
  • Producer: School of/style of Ogata Kenzan. Attributed to the Circle of Rozan, Nunami
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: pottery
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by de Beer, Esmond Samuel. Previous owner/ex-collection Barden, Agnes F. Collected by Barden, Siegfried