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Pair of incense burners with Arabic inscriptions

Incense burner with Arabic inscriptions (one of a pair), Qing dynasty (1644-1911), China, Bronze with gold inlay, The Avery Brundage Collection, B62B31

Incense burners with Arabic inscriptions (one of a pair), Qing dynasty (1644-1911), China, Bronze with gold inlay, The Avery Brundage Collection, B62B31

Incense burner with Arabic inscriptions (one of a pair), Qing dynasty (1644-1911), China, Bronze with gold inlay, The Avery Brundage Collection, B62B32

Incense burner with Arabic inscriptions (one of a pair), Qing dynasty (1644-1911), China, Bronze with gold inlay, The Avery Brundage Collection, B62B32

Incense burner with Arabic inscriptions (one of a pair), Qing dynasty (1644-1911), China, Bronze with gold inlay, The Avery Brundage Collection, B62B31
Incense burner with Arabic inscriptions (one of a pair), Qing dynasty (1644-1911), China, Bronze with gold inlay, The Avery Brundage Collection, B62B32

The Arabic inscriptions on either side of these Chinese incense burners indicate that they were made for the Muslim market. They could have been made for export or for foreign Muslims living in China, but just as likely they were made for Chinese Muslims. Paired incense burners often flanked the entrance of traditional Chinese temples. Their shape was adapted for use in mosques all over China. On one side is an inscription in Arabic giving the Shahadah, the Islamic declaration of faith, reading "There is no god but the One God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God." The inscription on the reverse is a quotation from the Koran, "The best discourse is remembrance of God and accounts of His Messenger." The incense burners are covered with little splashes of gold. This was achieved by fire gilding, a process by which gold is applied in the form of an amalgam with mercury. The vessel is then heated until the mercury evaporates and leaves the gold behind.