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Bronze Incense Burner (Koro), Japan
This incense burner dates from around 1800 and is in the form of a Chinese boy (karako) reading a book. Karako is a Japanese term meaning Chinese child'. It generally refers to Chinese children as they are portrayed in Japanese art, though the literal translation specifically references the Tang children of the Tang Dynasty [AD618-907]. The figures usually appear to be boys, wearing sets of conventional Chinese clothing and with their hair shaved and/or knotted in the traditional Tang style of this time. Karako are divine beings in Japanese mythology. They embody the innocence and joy of childhood and, as such, are often portrayed in scenarios where they are playing. Other interpretations find that karako are used to symbolise the wish to have a male successor who will gain high social status and also as a benevolent symbol which brings luck, happiness and prosperity. Gift of Alfred De Pass
© RIC, photographer Mike Searle