Incense box

From Ise Province (modern Mie prefecture) Japan, late 18th - early 19th century AD

Pottery with brown, rust, beige and green glazes

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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More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Diameter: 45.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA 1954.4-18.15


Gift of E.S. de Beer


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