Monk's-cap ewers were used in ritual ceremonies of the Lamaist sect of Buddhism, and were mostly made in metal. The form was copied in early 15th century porcelain. For a discussion on Yongle ewers of this form, see Liu Xinyuan, Imperial Porcelain of the Yongle and Xuande Periods Excavated from the Site of the Ming Imperial Factory at Jingdezhen, Hong Kong 1989, Catalogue, pp.98 and 99. For the early 15th-century prototype, compare the red-glazed covered ewer in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in the revised Sekai Toji Zenshu, vol.14, Japan 1976, pl.32. For a white-glazed comparison, see the one sold in our New York Rooms, 23 March 1995, lot 96.
For an identical Kangxi copper-red-glazed monk's cap ewer, bearing a Xuande mark, see Monochrome Porcelain - The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong 1999, p.25, pl.22.
These shaped-ewers continued to be produced during the following reigns. Thus, a white-glazed monk's cap jug from Yongzheng period is also kept in the Palace Museum and illustrated in Op. Cit., p.126, pl.115. See also a Qianlong red-glazed ewer with a cap included in the Min Chiu Society Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition of Selected Treasures of Chinese Art, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1990, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 75, and subsequently sold in our Hong Kong Rooms, 27 April 1998, lot 721. Another Qianlong ewer was sold in our Hong Kong Rooms, 29 April 2002, lot 538.