Incense BurnerCeladon with Qilin Cover

UnknownGoryeo, 12th century

National Museum of Korea

National Museum of 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. Another imaginary creature sometimes used to decorate incense burners was the girin (or qilin), as seen on this piece. According to Xuanhe Fengshi Gaoli Tujing (宣和奉使高麗圖經), a 40-volume text published in 1123, written by Xu Jing (徐兢), an envoy from China’s Song Dynasty, a metal incense burner with an animal-shaped cover was used at an official royal event. Sanghyeong celadon vessels (ceramics shaped like people, plants, or animals) were primarily produced in the 12th century, the zenith of Goryeo celadon. The stunning beauty of the glaze color and the refined form of this incense burner demonstrate the exceptional quality of ceramics craftsmanship of the time.

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  • Title: Incense BurnerCeladon with Qilin Cover
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Goryeo, 12th century
  • Physical Dimensions: h17.6 cm
  • Original Title: 청자 기린 장식 향로
  • Type: Ceramic
  • Rights: National Museum of Korea