in the shape of Mount Bo (Boshanlu)
Boshanlu censers, which were very common during the Western Han dynasty (221 B.C.E.-24 C.E, do not seem to have existed prior to that period. Within a short period, this type of covered censer was the repository of a fully integrated system of associations and meanings.
Among the powers ascribed to mountains, the ability to provide water was perhaps the most important for an agrarian society like China. More importantly, they were seen as the sources of the clouds that brought the rain. Cloud-breath, whose visible manifestation was depicted in art as trailing wisps of smoky clouds, was regarded as an auspicious omen.
The Five Sacred Mountains were also supposed to act as intermediaries between earth and heaven, where the Supreme heavenly Sovereign resided. When a new dynasty was founded, the emperor was supposed to visit the mountains, or at least one of them, to report to heaven through them and to receive the heavenly mandate for ruling the whole world.
Mountains were portrayed as places where all sorts of peculiar mammals, birds, and fish live. The deities who presided over the mountain ranges were described as composites of two or three creatures-human, dragon, bird, snake, or horse.
There were many myths and legends associated with mountains in general and with certain mountains in particular. Mt. Kunlun was described as the place where the Queen Mother of the West dwells. By the Han dynasty, it was written that a mortal could reach the upper Heaven and become a god if he succeeded in climbing Kunlun.
From the late Zhou period, the cult of immortals became increasingly important. Belief in a mythical land called Penglai, an imaginary mountain paradise inhabited by immortals and said to be located in either the western mountains or the eastern seas, began as early as the 4th century B.C.E. It was believed that humans could find this paradise and there obtain the elixir of immortality. This cult eventually became incorporated into religious Daoism
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The top of the censer was made in two parts, a lower bowl and an upper section, which represents the mountain. It opens at the joint between the sections to allow for the placement and lighting of incense. The smoke escapes through small holes hidden in the top part of the mountain. This smoke was believed to represent cloud breath.
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