Akoda Incense Burner with Scattered Three-striped Quince Crests and Flowers in Makie

Place of production
Era century
Edo Period
Length 10.6 cm Width 8.0 cm
Kyoto National Museum
Because the six-lobed form of this incense burner resembles that of an <i>akoda</i> melon, it is referred to as an ""akoda incense burner."" In the practice of the incense ceremony (J., <i>k&ocirc;d&ocirc;</i>), it is used to carry small charcoals into the room where the ceremony will be performed. However, originally, an incense burner such as this was used in the Heian period (794-1185) to perfume a room or their clothing by burning incense. Usually, the incense burner was covered with a grill made of metal.

This example is fitted with a basket-weave cover executed in pierced bronze. The body itself is made of wood, the rim of which is lined in bronze to receive the cover. A second layer of flat gold filings is applied over a ground of black lacquer, on top of which are arranged crests of Japanese quince blossoms enclosing the three strokes that make up the character for ""three"". These crests have been applied in flat sprinkled <i>makie</i> composed of flat gold and greenish gold powder and thin cut strips of gold and silver. The interior and bottom are plainly decorated with flat gold filings and no pattern. The design on the body consists only of quince blossoms, but the variety of metals and decorative techniques give to each crest a different feeling. This complexity and the random distribution of the crests over the surface contribute to sublime design of this incense burner.

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