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The So-called Xuan De Censer in Ming Dynasty

The custom of burning incense has a very long history in China. Usually speaking, Chinese people originally made the clothes fragrant to show the politeness to others. Later, it gradually became a kind of elegant aspiration and interest of the men of letters in ancient China. As a result, as early as in Han Dynasty, which lasts from 206BC to 220AD, the censers made of wide materials such as pottery, porcelain, copper, iron and tiles were made. When it came to Xuande Period in Ming Dynasty, the making of the censers reached the peak stage.

When the Emperor Xuande of Ming Dynasty was on the throne, a series of red bronze was imported from Xanluo country, which is as a matter of fact the Thailand, for the purpose of meeting the requirements of the emperor’s love to the censers. Some students who are interested in Chinese culture might have learned that the imported materials were later designed and made into the exquisite Xuan De Censer after the emperor ordered the craftsmen in the imperial palace to design according to the styles of those porcelains collected as well as relevant historical books.

In order to make sure the quality of the censer, the craftsmen selected couples of precious metals such as golden and silver to melt with the red bronze together after more than ten times of refining. As a result, the censers made had crystal clear color and high quality, being called the treasures of the handicrafts in Ming Dynasty. The success of making Xuan De Censer indicated the beginning of making copper censers in later generations. For a very long period, XUan De Censer has been regarding as the general calling of copper censers.

According to the record of the history books, the imported red bronze materials were used to make totally 3000 pieces of Xuan De Censers and it was never made later. However, the pity thing is that all of those treasures were collected in the palace so that the ordinary people could just hear the name but never say the real appearance of them. During the process of learning Mandarin Chinese, teachers would tell you that the real Xuan De Censer works are rarely seen at present. Those works we can see are mostly imitated by people of the later generations. However, real or imitated, we still can see the high making techniques of copper wares in Ming Dynasty.

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