The yi was a water vessel that was used in conjunction with a pan for the ritual washing of hands. It was a late Western Zhou adaptation of the gong or the he, and continued into the Eastern Zhou period.
Of the similar yi published, none appears to have plain sides below the band of interlaced dragon scroll and none appears to have as intricate a dragon head terminal on the handle as does the present example. See the similar related yi decorated with a band of interlaced dragon scroll above ribbed sides excavated at Luoshan, Henan province, illustrated in Wenwu, 1980:1, pp. 51-2, fig. 2; and another illustrated by B. Karlgren, 'Yin and Chou in Chinese Bronzes', B.M.F.E.A., No. 8, Stockholm, 1936, pl. XLV, C 39.