This incense burner is in the shape of a Ding, which is an ancient Chinese vessel with a hemispherical body supported by three legs; hence, it is also called a tripod.
Dings can be made of ceramic or bronze in various shapes. Smaller ones are believed to be cooking utensils, while larger versions are believed to be sacrificial or commemorative vessels. The older dings are dated back to Shang Dynasty (1600-1027 BC). In China, ding is a symbol of power and status. In fact, early Chinese historical texts state that the possession of ding vessels symbolized the authority to rule. Inscriptions on dings and zhongs are studied for bronzeware script.
On the lid of this incense burner, there lies a Qilin, which is a mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creature that is said to appear in conjunction with the arrival of a sage. It is a good omen that brings rui (roughly translated as "serenity" or "prosperity").
On the sides, reside a pair of Fenghuang, the Chinese phoenix, which has no connection with the phoenix of the western world. The Chinese phoenix, like the dragon, exists only in legends and fairy tales. Sovereign of all birds, it has the head of the golden pheasant, the beak of the parrot, the body of the mandarin duck, the wings of the roc, the feathers of the peacock and the legs of the crane; gloriously beautiful, it reigns over the feathered world. In the Chinese culture, phoenix is a symbol of grace, auspiciousness and good luck.
An inscription in the front with four ancient Chinese characters "Jin Yu Man Tang" blessing for a full house of gold and jade.