Compare a related vase with two birds surrounding a hollow trunk from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, illustrated in Philip Rawson and Laszlo Legaza, Tao, la Philosophie Chinoise de Temps et du Changement, Paris 1973, p.101, fig.17.
The present vase is related to a group of hardstone embellished gilt-bronze censers from the Qianlong period modelled as mythical qilin. These later are cast with a cylindrical funnel on their backs such as the example illustrated in A Special Exhibition of Incense Burners and Perfumers Throughout the Dynasties, Taipei 1994, no.119 ; and the lot sold in our Hong Kong Rooms, 29 November 2005, lot 1584. Another version of this type of gilt-bronze mythical beast is found cast in two separate parts with the beast's head acting as a cover, cf. a similar example sold in these Rooms, 15 June 2005, lot 219.