Sunday, August 30, 2009


Tsuri-gōro or hanging incense burner in the form of a flying bat with half-folded wings. Of cast and cold-chiseled bronze, with a copper wire chain. Edo period, late 18th – early 19th century.

With a period wood storage box, inscribed on the exterior of the lid: Kōro, Kōmori or Incense Burner, Bat (Form); and on the side of the box inscribed: Kōmori Kōro or Bat (Form) Incense Burner.

Though bats were considered omens of good fortune in China, Edo period artists rarely sculpted them. By the late 19th and early 20th century, bats figure in paintings of the moon, and rarely in carved trays for sencha tea (c.f. Kagedo’s catalogue Breaking Light, numbers 59 – 62).

Modeled with the quirky realism common to Edo period bronzes, this rare incense burner must have been commissioned by an eccentric and affluent literati of the samurai class. Finely chiseled details render the fur across the neck, detail the open teeth, and tiny, curling feet. The assembled chain is woven from very fine copper wire. With its tensed wings, it would have been seen wreathed in incense as if darting suddenly through clouds.

1 5/8” high x 7 3/8” wide x 4 ½” long (dimensions of bat without hanging chain).

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