The pair of ‘Ding’ censers are raised on three slender legs with a single horizontal painted red line along the bottom section of the foot. It supports a circular vessel with painted motifs along the middle band next to a pair of angular bail handles that rise from the vessel. The large and shallow lid shares similar painted decorations as the vessels central band. The interior is left untouched exposing the dark grey clay body of the vessel, synonymous with Han Dynasty light red earthenware.
During the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), it was common practice for luxury items such as jades, bronze, textiles and gold ornaments to be buried in tombs along with the deceased to serve their needs in the afterlife. In the Han Dynasty, these luxury items were replaced with pottery models known as ‘mingqi’. This particular pair of censers with the swirling painted designs are believed to represent the celestial mists through which the deceased would travel to join the immortals.
• A similar lidded vessel but with no legs or handles is in the British Museum, museum number 1979,0725.1
• Another example is illustrated in Urgami Sokyu-do 10th Anniversary Exhibition, 1989.