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Tripod censer, early 17th century, China, Ming dynasty (1368- 1644), Wanli period (1573 – 1619), Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province, porcelain with underglaze blue decoration, 11.0 x 8.7 cm. Gift from the J.H. Myrtle Collection 2000, 133.2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (C) Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

This incense burner is decorated with two five-clawed dragons frolicking with a flaming pearl amongst clouds and flames, beneath a narrow scroll border and above a wave base. The three legs bear animal faces above beast claws. The design is based on a legend of the dragon having nine sons which emerged in the Ming dynasty. One of the nine sons is named Suanni who resembles a lion and enjoys smoke, and thus appears often as a motif on incense burners.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, January 2012