|Ming Wanli Reticulated Blue and White Incense Stand (WBW101306)
|1560s-1620s, late 16th – early 17th century
Wanli period, Ming dynasty
Porcelain with underglae cobalt blue
H: 37.3 cm / 14.7 in (with stand); 35.5 cm / 14 in (without stand)
W: 16 cm / 6.3 in
From a Northern California private collection
An unusual late Ming blue and white incense stand or vase, of unusual reticulated form, with a circular cupped rim and neck above a square-sectioned body, the curving walls partially undercut and painted with cloud collar lappets above elongated leaves on each corner that frame a cash-shaped roundel to the center.
Reticulated / open-work porcelains usually appear in the form of small bowls and cups. Large objects such as this vessel would have been extremely hard to fire, as the weakened open-work body was aptly to collapse or warp in the kiln. This vase-stand did in fact warp in the kiln due to its large size, and stands slightly lopsided. To solve this problem, a previous collector had a custom wood stand with a tilted base made, so that when the vase is placed on its stand, it appears to stand straight.
According to British Museum curator Jessica Harrison-Hall, reticulated vase-stands such as this were most likely made to hold incense; its pierced, open-work shape would have allowed incense smoke/fragrance to leak out its body and permeate throughout a room. The base of this vase-stand still carries traces of mortar; it’s likely that it was once attached to a regional temple or monastery, and was hacked-off and sold during the decades of unrest following the collapse of the Qing dynasty.
For a Ming Longquan reticulated incense stand, see British Museum Franks.1666. For an earlier blue and white reticulated vessel, see Christie’s Sale 7084 Lot 9.