Object nr. 510 China, Kangxi period (1662-1722) Height: 18,5cm

Private Collection, The Netherlands

Condition Report available

€ 14,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Information


A pair of Blanc de Chine porcelain joss stick holders, in the form of cranes leaning against tree trunks. The cranes, with long slender legs and elegant neck, point their beaks upwards. A small spray of prunus blossom sprouts from the bottom of the trunks and a small lotus bud grows from the top. Auspicious lingzhi bracket-fungus grows on the side of the trees. They stand on moulded rockery bases, the underside hollow and unglazed.

In China, the crane (he) is a potent symbol of longevity and emblem of wisdom. It was thought that cranes could live for more than 1000 years, its white feathers standing for old age, which is why it particularly associated with long life. Its elegant bearing and ability to stand still, make it look like its deep contemplation – which also makes it appear very wise. In China, the magical fairy crane (xian he), features in many Daoist myths. It is the mount of choice for the immortals and the fairy Queen of the West, when travelling between heaven and earth. When depicted together with the lingzhi immortality fungus, the combination can be read as a wish for long life: ‘may the crane and fungus extend your years’. With a lotus, it has an additional wish for continual promotion – altogether reading ‘may you have a long and successful life’.

The Royal Collection Trust, UK has a comparable crane (RCIN58857a-b), except the trunk also has a small lid. A similar piece, listed as a candlestick, is in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London ( The Ringling Museum, Florida, holds an identical example from the Koger Collection (SN11122.175). An example with a very similar rockery base, was salvaged from a Wanli period wreck.

Floris van der Ven