Bronze Incense Burner

13th-14th century


Representing a unique development by artisans in the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392 AD), this type of incense burner was unknown in China or Japan. Known as a hyangwan, or incense bowl, these incense burners were integral to Buddhist rituals. They are composed of a deep basin spreading out to a wide rim and supported on a high standing foot. Though this particular incense burner is devoid of surface decoration except for clean and simple bands incised around the bowl and the stem, this only serves to accentuate the clarity of shape and form. The unfaltering curve of the bowl as it sweeps up to the rim and the tempered but vital flow into the stand alone serve to convey the inherent grace of this piece.