Inventory no.: 1539

Indian Chimera Censor


Brass Censor in the form of a Chimaera

Northern India (Sindh)

18th-19th century

height: 32cm,

length: 29cm

This rather extraordinary censor has been cast in the form of a chimaera, a composite beast with a rooster’s head, a camel’s hump, a human leg and hand (raised and holding a flower), a horse’s leg and hoof, an elephant’s leg and foot, a lion’s leg and paw (the paw rests on a rock), and a cobra for a tail.

The body is hollow and the rooster’s beak is open allowing the emission of incense vapour from incense that burns inside the body. The rooster head lifts off completely allowing access to the interior of the body. The cobra-tail also lifts off, perhaps allowing the censor to be shifted whilst in use – the body might heat up and the tail can be slid into place and be used as a (cool) handle.

The form of the

chimaera was known in northern India. Birdwood (1880) reproduces a similar version saying that such a motif was used on lacquerware from the Sindh.


UK art market


Birdwood, G., The Industrial Arts of India, 1880.

Inventory no.: 1539