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Old 15th March 2021, 03:00 AM   #1
M ELEY
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Default An old temple lantern-Japanese? Chinese?

I picked this up a number of years ago and had it hanging from a hook on the ceiling (I think the chain is much later and possibly modern), but it has little 'feet', so I'm assuming it sat on the floor. I've also sent pics of this off to the Sackler Gallery/Smithsonian, as they have been great at helping me in the past identify a few items over the years (still waiting to hear back. they are closed due to Covid)

OK, so the item stands 11" tall (not counting the movable bracket at the top) and approx 7" diameter. It is made of old bronze (slightly magnetic) that is blackened, but whether this is 'ancient patina' or metal that has been pickled (a common process seen on tsuba, metalwork, etc), I'm not sure. It consists of two semi-circles held together by bronze pins. The top portion with bracket/finial resembling Japanese fixtures I've seen, while the bottom has a cut-out tray that would hold the candle or incense. The whole thing is hollow with open floral patterns and concentric line work (again, I've seen these patterns on Japanese and Chinese, but also Tibetan and even Bhutanese artifacts). The three 'feet' are tiny and pierce through the bottom (not cast with it). The work overall is rather plain compared to the showy/exaggerated 'export' items coming out of China/Japan during the Ching and late-Meiji period. I am assuming this wasn't for export/resale, but purely functional. Was it for a temple? Wealthy family's garden? Any opinions are welcomed!
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Old 15th March 2021, 03:03 AM   #2
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Default More pics...

As the casting looks more primitive, I'm wondering if this is a testament to the piece's age? Also, after searching multiple auction catalogs, antique price guides, etc, I did see something very close in a book about a Japanese Diamo's palace surrounded by samurai artifacts. So, Japanese?
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Old 16th March 2021, 10:06 PM   #3
francantolin
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Really nice !!
But no info about...
Yes maybe a temple incense burner
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Old 16th March 2021, 11:04 PM   #4
M ELEY
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Thanks for commenting, Francantolin. Yes, I really like this piece. It was 'rewired' back in the thirties with a lightbulb and listed as 'an Old Salem lamp'. Old Salem here in NC is a colonial town dating back to the 1750's. It was a crap job and I tore out the wire that was clearly added later. I've seen so many antiques from the 'Deco' period that were permanently destroyed! I've seen Bavarian swords made into candle holders/hilts, Indian Kula Khed helmets made into lamps. I myself used to own two Japanese temple lanterns (big ones embellished with dragons, snails, turtles, etc, that had the dragon bronze head removed and a lamp fixture placed, again some time in the 30's. Such a tragedy! Anyway, this piece is intact and the iron chain links I'm assuming are more modern.
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Old 29th March 2021, 05:42 PM   #5
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OK! Well, the verdict finally came back from the experts at the Smithsonian. It is a Chinese censur (as Francantolin had surmised), an incense burner probably for a temple or private home. The patterning threw her. She was guessing late Ching Dynasty, but said she thought it was darkened from incense, which I question. She did say some of the designs were also used during the Ming period, so no exact date. Still, an interesting item!
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