Late Edo Hirado Lantern with Serpentine Dragons


From a large collection of Edo period Nabeshima and Hirado-ware, this intricately crafted incense burner in the shape of a lantern features two intertwined dragons dancing around the base. Various parts of the lantern are painted with clouds, dragons, and arabesque designs, making for a unique and impactful composition.

Hirado wares—alternately known as Mikawachi wares in some contexts—are known throughout Japan and also abroad for their high quality and fine craftsmanship that dates back at least as far as the mid-18th century when they were produced exclusively for powerful lords and their families. In the 19th century, Hirado wares became popular abroad, especially in the Victorian West, and by the 1840s Hirado porcelains had become an export eagerly sought after by sophisticated buyers around the world. Hirado porcelain became so popular in fact that it was featured in the great international expositions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In fine antique condition with possibly several small repairs to the dragon claws but no readily noticeable flaws (see pictures), this extraordinary piece is 4.1 inches wide (10.5 cm), and 10 inches tall (25.5 cm). It comes with a period wood box and protective silk cloth.