Incense BurnerCeladon with Lion Cover

UnknownGoryeo, 12th century

National Museum of Korea

National Museum of Korea
Seoul, South Korea

Incense burners are usually made out of metal, but with the advance of celadon techniques, some celadon incense burners were produced. Many incense burners had lids that were decorated with animals, either real animals like lions, mandarins, and ducks, or imaginary creatures like dragons. This incense burner has a lid shaped like a lion, which was believed to be a protector of Buddhism, and thus appears frequently in stone pagodas, stone lanterns, and other Buddhist ceremonial instruments. This particular lion has some very unique features: its right paw is resting on a “Cintamani” (a magic Buddhist jewel) and it has a bell hanging on its chest; the pupils of its wide, staring eyes are darkened with iron-brown underglaze; and its ears are tucked low, while its tail is curled up to its back. Xu Jing’s Xuanhe Fengshi Gaoli Tujing (宣和奉使高麗圖經) has a section called “Ceramic Incense Burner” that mentions a lion-shaped incense burner. According to Xu Jing, the “lion-shaped incense burner is glazed with a jade green color, and has an animal crouching on top, with lotus flowers supporting it. Among a wealth of wonderful articles, this one is the most magnificent.” This incense burner shows some differences from the one described by Xu Jing, but it is still highly significant in that it exemplifies the early 12th-century style of sanghyeong celadon incense burners, which were designed to resemble a person, plant, or animal.


  • Title: Incense BurnerCeladon with Lion Cover
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Goryeo, 12th century
  • Physical Dimensions: h24.4 cm
  • Original Title: 청자 사자 장식 향로
  • Type: Ceramic
  • Rights: National Museum of Korea


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