Japan, Hizen Province (Hirado ware)
White porcelain with blue underglaze decoration of maple leaves
H. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm)
Gift of Charles Stewart Smith, 1893 (93.3.11a,b)
Incense burners such as this were usually placed in the tokonoma alcove of a room both to scent the room and as decorative artworks. This oval-shaped incense burner has small legs, and a cover reticulated in maple-leaf forms to match the underglaze blue decoration of the body. The handle is a figure of a horse. The incense burner would have contained fine ash on top of which incense wood or incense mixture would have been burned. The delicate smoke of the burning incense would come through the reticulated maple leaves of the cover. The incense used would have provided a seasonal reference to autumn, along with the maple-leaf theme of the burner and other items displayed in the alcove, such as flowers and paintings or calligraphy.