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Arita, Hizen province [Japan]

Pair of pastille burners in the form of tortoises burners: 1680-1700, mounts: 1700-50

Porcelain decorated with brown and blue glazes, mounted in gilt bronze | 25.0 x 21.7 x 15.0 cm (whole object) | RCIN 4961

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A rare figure of a minogame turtle posed on a tree stump, its large pointed tail forming a handle, the long neck and head turned back to look at its young perched on its back, the open mouth originally intended to emit the fragrance, the four feet projecting before and behind. Its body is enlivened with incised dots on the neck and strokes on the tail, both dressed with brown glaze, and the carapace moulded with a hexagon pattern, brown-glazed with a white border on RCIN 4961.1 and with the order reversed on RCIN 4961.2, the young in each case coloured in contrast. The separately fired hollow stump is gnarled and covered in brown glaze, in parts applied only thinly on the biscuit; and growing on it, blue mushrooms. Gilt-bronze wire floral sprays with leaves and berries reach around and over each turtle, the wires attached to the stump by four screws, and six holes piercing the sides of the stump are framed in gilt bronze. A shaped oval gilt-bronze base is attached to the foot of the stump, encrusted with shells, fish, lizards and snakes. The lower part (with beaded edge) is entirely separate and is raised on four tulip-and-leaf feet. Attached to the top surface of the base is a lobed gilt-bronze burner with gadrooned lip, which sits within the porcelain stump and serves as a censer.

Text adapted from Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen: Volume II.