The very difficult technique used to produce the striking design on this vase was developed at the Cizhou kilns in the Northern Song dynasty. It involved the application of a pale slip to the unfired stoneware vessel, followed by a dark slip. The outline of the decoration was then incised through the dark top layer and the background area of the design was cut away to reveal the pale slip beneath. Details, such as stamens and leaf veins, were also incised through the dark upper layer either with a fine point or a comb-like instrument. The thin colorless glaze could then be applied and the vessel fired.
This technique required very skillful application, since the slip layers were both relatively soft and the decorator had to judge exactly how deep to cut in order to remove the dark slip layer without accidentally cutting away the lower pale layer. When successfully rendered, the technique was ideal for the depiction of dramatic large-scale floral motifs like those seen on the current vase. Shards found at the Guantai kiln in Cixian, Hebei province, include examples very similar to the current vase. These shards are illustrated in the comprehensive report of the excavation of the Guantai kiln site: Guantai Cizhou yaozhi, Beijing, 1997, pl. 25-4 and col. pl. 21-2.
A similarly decorated Cizhou carved meiping from the Arthur M. Sackler Collection was sold at Christie's New York, 18 March 2009, lot 330.