AGE: – Exact age unknown, definitely antique, more than one hundred years
CONSTRUCTION: – Brass
DESCRIPTION: – Temple Incense Burner | Six Patriarchs Taoist Buddhism
HEIGHT: – 44cm
WEIGHT: – 4.25kg
FOR PRICE PLEASE CONTACT – include item number below
Antique Temple Incense Burner | Six Patriarchs Taoist Buddhist figures in relief, five on the body and one seated at the feet of a Phoenix with wings spread and two dragons decorating either side, plum blossoms (prunus) and foliage dispersed between the figures. The most well known of the Patriarchs, Hung Neng (Liu Tsu) is seated with one leg bent, wearing a crown. There is a mark on the body with two Chinese letters “Da Wang” which translates into English, meaning King, Magnate or person having expert skill in something.
Myth and legend related to the Chinese Phoenix date back at least 4000 years, this bird was depicted in motifs on Shang Dynasty pottery as well as bronzes from this period.
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The Phoenix In China is referred to as Fenghuang, “feng”, male bird and “huang” female bird, the two words over time were merged together. There are a variety of meanings associated with Fenghuang, it symbolizes Yin and Yang, represents balance and harmony, virtue, prosperity and is often present in some form or another at royal ceremonies and weddings, the phoenix is usually paired with dragons. They are believed to have been good-luck totems of eastern tribes in ancient China. The phoenix is believed to reign over all other birds and is a composite of five birds with the body of a duck, the tail of a peacock, legs of a crane the head of a pheasant, the beak of a parrot and wings of a swallow.
The Phoenix is a common feature in Chinese art, frequently seen painted on Chinese ceramics, paintings, temple decoration and other art objects such as jade carvings. In Chinese mythology the Phoenix (Fenhuang) symbolizes the union of female and male and represents the six celestial bodies.
During the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) two phoenixes, one a male (feng), and the other a female (huang), were often seen facing one other. During the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368 AD) the two terms were merged to become the generally translated “phoenix”, or “King of Birds”. The Phoenix became the symbol for the Empress when paired with a dragon, with the dragon representing the Emperor.
THE SIX PATRIARCHS IN TAOIST BUDDHISM
The six figures on this incense burner most Likely represent the six Patriarchs related to Confucianism and Taoism. There are two separate groups of Buddhist patriarchs, those of the West with Indian and Hindu origins and those of the East with Chinese origins. The patriarchs originating in China are a total of six known as the Tung-t’u Liu and are a later development in Chinese Buddhism.
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The first patriarch of Chinese Buddhism is Bodhidharma, he was the 28th and last patriarch of Indian Buddhism. He left India when he was already an old man around AD 520. After traveling for approximately three years he reached Canton bringing with him the sacred alms bowl of the Indian Patriarchate. He died about ten years later and is thought to be buried near Loyang or Canton. The last of the six Patriarchs who lived during the 7th century was the most famous of the Six, known as Liu Tsu, best known by his religious name Hung Neng, who was the founder of the Dhyana (Ch’an) “School of Sudden Awaking”, which is today the only major surviving Dhyana School of Chinese Buddhism which is practiced in many parts of Asia.
Referenced – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The founding of the Tang dynasty (618–907) was accompanied by millenarian prophecies about a sage-emperor surnamed Li (Bokenkamp 1994). As we saw before (§2.5), this was also the surname of the Han-dynasty messiah; four centuries later, the powerful Li family claimed to belong to Laozi’s lineage. Their rise to the throne was supported by representatives of the Shangqing lineage. The patriarch Wang Yuanzhi (528–635) predicted the rise of the Tang, informed Li Yuan that he would become the next emperor, and secretly transmitted to him the “registers” of the Celestial Mandate (tianming). Li Yuan finally founded the Tang dynasty as Emperor Gaozu. These events marked the beginning of the ascent of Shangqing to a status similar to “state religion”, which it maintained throughout the first half of the dynasty (Barrett 1996; Kohn and Kirkland 2000). The support of the court culminated in ca. 740 in the compilation of the Kaiyuan daozang (Daoist Canon of the Kaiyuan Reign Period), the first of a series of imperially-sponsored collections of Daoist texts.
The other four Patriarchs: the second Shen Kuang, the third Patriarch Seng Ts’an, the fourth Patriarch Tao-hsin and the fifth Patriarch Hung-jen. To learn more about these Patriarchs, they are discussed in more detail on this website.
CHINESE DRAGONS IN CHINESE MYTHOLOGY
The dragon in China is a mythological creature, and has been part of Chinese myth and folklore for a few thousand years. During the Han Dynasty the dragon was chosen by Emperors as their symbol to show imperial power with the colour gold or yellow becoming the Imperial colour for all Emperors to follow.
Like the Phoenix dragons are a popular theme in Taoist (Daoist) religion, as well as mainstream Buddhism, Chinese literature and poetry, they are frequently painted on ceramics with their long twisting body winding their way around a vase or bowl, depicted in paintings and sculptures as well as being popular features in many Chinese temples, decorating roof lines. They are also highly symbolic in the principles practiced in Feng Shui and is one of the animals in the Chinese zodiac.
The Chinese dragon differs from the western dragon represented in medieval tales where they are portrayed as angry fire spewing creature that destroys everything in its path. In China the dragon is portrayed as an auspicious creature, benevolent and powerful, the bringer of good luck, master of the weather and moving bodies of water such as waterfalls, rivers and oceans, as well as bestowing blessings and good fortune, but whatever you do don’t anger him, if angered their rage can be extremely harmful and can work in reverse.