Incense burner with design of mountain retreat

Artist: Ogata Kenzan , Chojiyamachi workshop (1663-1743)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1712-ca. 1731
Stoneware with cobalt pigment under clear glaze; gold lacquer repairs
H x Diam: 6.1 × 8 cm (2 3/8 × 3 1/8 in)
Japan, Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel

Incense burner

Edo period (1615 - 1868), incense, Japan, lacquer repair, landscape, mountain

To 1898
Bunkio Matsuki (1867-1940), Boston, to 1898 [1]

From 1898 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Bunkio Matsuki in 1898 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 438, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Bunkio Matsuki (C.L. Freer source) 1867-1940


The overall composition suggests a handscroll wrapped around the vessel. The poem, appropriate to the high-minded flavor of the mountain retreat, may be paraphrased thus:

Indifferent to expense, they built a lofty golden terrace
Settled here in seclusion, my mind has turned to ashes.

The poem alludes to a well-known series of linked verses called Jingqiu langu (Reflections on Jingqiu) composed by Chen Ziang (661-702).

The absence of glaze on the interior shows the vessel was made not as a tea bowl but as an incense burner. It has been suggested that the use of the character "ash," connoting "extinction," at the end of the poem relates to the use of this piece as an incense burner (the incense is laid over a bed of ash). The harmonization of visual and literary imagery with actual deployment is a fitting example of the first Kenzan's total approach.

Published References
  • Louise Allison Cort. A Kenzan Incense Burner. no. 2, vol. 33, no. 1, December 2004. .
  • Richard L. Wilson. The Art of Ogata Kenzan: Persona and Production in Japanese Ceramics., 1st ed. New York and Tokyo. fig. 307.
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 198.
  • Richard L. Wilson. The Potter's Brush: The Kenzan Style in Japanese Ceramics. Exh. cat. Washington. p. 61, fig. 1.
  • Impressions: The Journal of the Japanese Art Society of America. no. 39 Lexington, Massachusetts, 2018. p. 151, fig. 29.
  • Louise Allison Cort. The Kenzan Style in Japanese Ceramics. Watertown, Massachusetts, Autumn 2002. p. 168.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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