Incense Burner In The Form Of A Lion
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1964.44
Title
Incense burner in the form of a lion
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
vessel
Date
15th century
Places
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Deccan
Period
Sultanate period
Culture
Indian
Location
Level 2, Room 2590, South Asian Art
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Cast bronze
Technique
Cast
Dimensions
17.46 x 13.97 x 6.67 cm (6 7/8 x 5 1/2 x 2 5/8 in.)
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Friends of the Fogg Art Museum Fund
Accession Year
1964
Object Number
1964.44
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Description
This incense burner combines the Indian sculptural tradition and the Islamic tradition of zoomorphic incense burners. To judge from two similar objects which have survived, this one would have stood on a circular platform with its raised paw resting on the head of a small elephant. The lid, which would have covered its back, is also missing. The incense would have been placed in the lion's body, and perfumed smoke would have been released from the holes in its chest, resembling beads on necklaces, and through its mouth, around its movable tongue. Notes from the Glory and Prosperity exhibition, Feb - June 2002.

Label Text: Islamic Art: The Power of Pattern, written 1989
Incense burner in the form of a lion
India, Sultanate, Deccan, 15th century
Cast bronze
Friends of the Fogg Art Museum
1964.44

Label Text: Deccani Painting, written 1982
India, Sultanate Period, Bijapur, 15th - 16th century
Incense burner in the shape of a lion
bronze
Purchase - Friends of the Fogg Art Museum 1964.44

Label Text: Glory and Prosperity: Metalwork of the Islamic World, written 2002
Incense Burner
India, Deccan, 15th century Bronze
Friends of the Fogg Art Museum
1964.44

This incense burner combines the Indian sculptural tradition and the Islamic tradition of zoomorphic incense burners . To judge from two similar objects that have survived, this one would have stood on a circular platform with its raised pa w resting on the head of a small elephant. The lid, which would have covered its back, is also missing. The incense was placed in the lion's body and perfumed smoke released both through the holes in its chest that resemble beads on necklaces and through its mouth, around the movable tongue.

Label Text: Re-View: Arts of India & the Islamic Lands, written 2008
4
Incense Burner in the Form of a Lion
India, Deccan, 15th century
Bronze, cast and incised
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Friends of the Fogg Art Museum Fund, 1964.44
Freestanding figural sculpture is commonplace in Indian art but relatively rare in the Islamic tradition. When it does occur, it usually takes the form of a utilitarian object, such as a water vessel or incense burner. The lion is an ancient symbol in the Middle East for imperial power. The horns and bulging eyes of this feline demonstrate familiarity with the auspicious yali, a mythical horned lion often carved at the entrance of Indian temples and residences.

Publication History

Stuart Cary Welch, India, Art and Culture, 1300-1900, exh. cat., Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY, 1985), Page 131-132/Figure 76

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 53

Exhibition History

Birds, Beasts and Calligraphies, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/11/1981 - 09/29/1981

Indian Art During the Mughals, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/1986 - 05/18/1986

Islamic Art: The Power of Pattern, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/23/1989 - 01/17/1990

Overlapping Realms: Arts of the Islamic World and India, 900-1900, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 12/02/2006 - 03/23/2008

Re-View: Arts of India & the Islamic Lands, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/26/2008 - 06/01/2013

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted