Incense burner

LL 102


This elaborate incense burner reflects the refined environment for which it was made: the Summer Palace in Beijing, where Chinese emperors would escape from the heat of the imperial city in summer. The golden elements are all related to elephants: the legs are in the form of elephants' heads, the handles are shaped like elephants' trunks, and the dome has a reclining elephant on it, with a bowl of jewels on its back. As for the decoration, this was done by soldering thin metal strips onto a metal base to form the outlines of the pattern. The compartments were then filled with coloured enamel, which is fixed when the object is fired in a kiln. This type of decoration is known as cloisonné. The term cloisonné comes from the French verb 'cloisonner', which means 'to partition'. Before moving on, take a look at the other cloisonné objects in this case.