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It is said that Emperor Xuande of the Ming Dynasty was fond of incense burners and ordered the import of a batch of wind ground copper from the Kingdom of Siam. He ordered the court craftsman Lv Zhen and the minister of labor Wu Bangzuo to cast incense burners based on the porcelain styles produced by Ru, Ge, Jun, and Ding kilns stored in the imperial palace, as well as historical records such as the “Xuanhe Bo Gu Tu Lu” and “Archaeological Map”.
In order to ensure the quality of incense burners, Emperor Xuande requested that copper be refined no less than twelve times. The foundry selected dozens of precious metals such as gold and silver, which were carefully refined over ten times along with red copper. In the third year of Xuande’s reign, a total of 3000 incense burners were cast, but no more were produced in the future. The vast majority of these incense burners were displayed in the palace, and a few were awarded to relatives and close officials of the imperial family and some temples. For these Xuande furnaces, ordinary people only know their names and do not see their shapes.
According to records, the basic shape of the Xuande furnace in the Ming Dynasty is an open mouth, square or round lips, a short and thin neck, a flat and bulging belly, three blunt conical solid feet or split crotch hollow feet, and a bridge shaped ear, a shaped ear, or an animal shaped ear placed on the edge of the mouth. The inscription dates back to the outside of the furnace, similar to the Xuande porcelain model.
The most wonderful thing about Xuande furnace is its color, which blends in and emits a strange light from the darkness. According to historical records, there are over forty different colors, with a purple tinge resembling eggplant skin, called eggplant skin color; Black and yellow like Tibetan scripture paper, called Tibetan scripture color; Black and white with red and light yellow, called brown; Like the soil of old jade, it is called earth ancient color; The white, yellow, and red ones resembling the color of Tang pear are called Tang pear color, and there are also yellow and red ones on the ground, covered with colorful spots, called imitation Song burnt spot color; Spots that are even brighter red than cinnabar are called vermilion spots; And pig liver color, jujube red, amber color, tea powder, crab shell green, and so on. During the Wanli period of the Ming Dynasty, great collector and painter Xiang Yuanbian said, “The beauty of Xuanlu lies in the pearl light of its precious color, and the tranquility of Mu Mu appears outside
In order to make huge profits, from the Xuande period of the Ming Dynasty to the Republic of China period, antique merchants continued to imitate Xuande furnaces. It is said that after the Xuande furnace stopped casting, some “casting” officials summoned the original casting craftsmen to imitate according to the Xuande furnace’s drawings and process procedures, making it difficult to distinguish the authenticity. Up to now, there are many Xuande stoves collected in major museums in China, and none of them can be recognized by many appraisers as a true Xuande stove. Identifying true and false Xuande furnaces has become one of the “unsolved cases” in Chinese archaeology.