A large gold lacquer incense burner in the form of a standing crane
Meiji period, 19th century, Japan
Height: 101cm / 39 ¾ inches
This highly naturalistically modelled crane stands with neck held high, the head turned slightly to the left with closed mouth and alert realistic piercing glass eyes. The birds body is carved in wood then decorated in polished gold lacquer with fine feather work in raised gold lacquer, the inside neck and the tail feathers executed in a darker gun metal coloured lacquer over which very fine gold lacquer has been both sprinkled and drawn in raised work in imitation of feathers, the resulting combination of the two colours of lacquer takes on a beautiful green hew.
The legs are removable, fitting securely into the upper part of the legs which are attached to the main body, using long metal rods. The legs are realistically modelled and carved recreating the varied skin textures of this part of the anatomy; they have then been coated in a dark lacquer over which a matt gold has been applied subtly embellished with areas of fine sprinkled gold detailing.
The censer is placed at the base of the neck, on top of the back. A diamond shaped panel can be removed to reveal the three inch high circular silver metal container. The removable lacquer cover has at its centre a further diamond shaped feather that pivots open allowing the incense to escape. The inside of this cavity and the inside of the cover are both decorated in nashiji.
Birds, animals, fish, huts, fans, drums, gourds, people, demons and any number of subjects have been used by the inventive Japanese lacquer craftsmen when making boxes and censers, but we have not found any approaching the size of this gold lacquer crane.