China, probably Beijing
gilt-copper, cloisonné enamel, amber, malachite, lapis lazuli, mother of pearl and glass
burner height 28 cm ; base diameter 25.5 cm
Based on an archaic bronze form ding, this incense burner has been modified by the introduction of elephant-head feet and handles. Such embellishment became fashionable during the 17th century, providing a visual conceit where the actual supporting function is allied to the creature’s abstract attributes of strength and power. The reclining elephant on the cover bear a vase (ping), on e of the eight Buddhist symbols, representing eternal harmony and the ultimate triumph over birth and death. The cloisonné enamel decoration depicts the lotus, another of the eight Buddhist symbols.
Haydn Williams, Enamels of the World: 1700-2000 The Khalili Collections, London 2009, cat. 65, p. 121.