A cloisonné enamel lei form censer
Qianlong period, 1736-1795, China
Height: 23.5cm, 9.25inches
The archaistic vessel imitates a Shang period 13th-12th century BC Lei. The flattened bulbous body is supported on a raised and tapering circular foot ring, the neck is waisted with a flaring mouth, the vessel mounted with four masks in gilt bronze placed equidistantly around the top of the shoulder, between which run four vertical gilt bronze flanges. The decoration on the main band around the body is of four taotie masks framed top and bottom by bands of confronting stylised beasts which also decorate the foot, the neck with a design of lotus flowers and scrolling leaves on a dark blue ground.