This vase was made during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor, who was a keen Daoist and particularly interested in the attainment of long life. The vase is thus completely decorated with symbols of long life. The character for long life, shou, appears in medallions all over the vessel. The larger roundels on the upper bulb contain peach trees - themselves symbols of long life - twisted into the form of the shou character, and the larger roundels on the lower bulb contain images of Shoulao, the Star God of long life. A slightly smaller Jiajing double- gourd vase with round, rather than square lower bulb, but with very similar decoration, in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum is illustrated by J. Ayers, Far Eastern Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1980, no. 159. A Wanli example of this form and design in the collection of the Museum Pusat, Jakarta is illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections vol. 3, Tokyo, 1982, no. 227. The design on the Jakarta vase has the clouds and lotus petals surrounding the shou characters on the upper and lower bulbs replaced with beaded hangings and scrolls, but otherwise the designs are very similar on this and the current vase. The Jakarta vase has lost the upper part of its neck.
A slightly smaller Jiajing blue and white vase of the same shape with rounded upper and square lower bulb, and like the current vase including medallions with shou characters on the neck, is in the Palace Museum, Beijing. See The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 35 - Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (II), Hong Kong, 2000, p. 91, no. 85. The decoration on the Beijing vase, while differing somewhat from that on the current vase, nevertheless has Daoism and longevity as its theme. The roundels on the lower bulb of the current vase contain depictions of Shoulao, but those on the Beijing vase contain the Eight Daoist Immortals. Cranes, also symbols of long life, are shown flying over the surface of the upper bulb.