Bronze and part gilt covered censer
Ming dynasty, Xuande mark, 17th century, China
Height: 26 cm, 10.2 inches
Elliptical in cross section and having everted lip, the body of the censer features as a continuous frieze in high relief. The upper section of the censer is decorated in open cloud work depicting two dragons, symbolising masculinity, and two phoenixes, symbolising femininity, embellished with gold splashes. From the centre of the censer rises a reticulated shaped ball of clouds from which a dragon peers outwards over the length of the censer.