King of the beasts, human protector

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King of the beasts, human protector


Name: Incense Burner (Celadon with Lion-shaped cover)

Period: Goryeo Dynasty, 12th century

Location: National Museum of Korea, Fine Arts Gallery

Status: National Treasure No. 60

Although incense burners are usually made of metal, celadon incense burners were produced as ceramics became more advanced. The first celadon incense burners imitated bronze ones, but various decorations and designs were added later because of the flexibility of the clay. Most incense burners with lids were decorated with animals such as lions or ducks. Imaginary animals, like the girin, were also used.

This incense burner is believed to have been created for use on a Buddhist altar because of its lion-shaped cover. The lion appeared in stone pagodas, lanterns and other Buddhist ceremonial instruments because it was believed to be a protector in the Buddhist community.

*The photos and text for Treasure Trove are provided by the National Museum of Korea. For more information, call (02) 2077-9000 or visit
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