The qualities of the present vase - its thinness and light weight, the slight ivory tinge of the crackled glaze and the crisply moulded decoration - are all characteristic of 'soft-paste' porcelain, a technique developed in the 18th century for making white porcelain. This technique was developed as an attempt to imitate the ivory-white Ding wares from the Song dynasty. The body was particularly fine textured and therefore ideal for very crisp moulded and incised designs, as seen on this vase. The glaze on these soft-paste porcelains usually has a finely crackled appearance.
'Soft paste' involves the addition of a powdered white clay to the porcelain body, which is called hua shi (slippery stone), and the resulting lightweight ware with delicately moulded and incised designs, was actually more expensive to produce than a standard kaolin body, as Pere d'Entrecolles observed in his second letter of 1722. For a full discussion, see R. Kerr, Chinese Ceramics: Porcelain of the Qing Dynasty 1644-1911, 1986, pp. 52-53, where the author also illustrates a Qianlong 'soft paste' vase in the Victoria and Albert Museum, fig. 29.
The precise and crisply moulded decorative motifs on this vase are clearly influenced by earlier bronze vessels, created to satisfy Emperor Qianlong's keen interest in archaism. An identical vase is illustrated by J. Ayers, Chinese Ceramics from the Koger Collection, 1985, no. 140. For a Yongzheng-marked vase of identical shape but with slightly differing decoration, see the example illustrated by J. Ayers, Chinese Ceramics in the Baur Collection, vol. 2, 1999, pl. 307 (A421). Compare also the vase from the Percival David Foundation, no. 445, included in the Oriental Ceramic Society exhibition, The Ceramic Art of China, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1971, Catalogue, pl. 240.
Compare to three Qianlong relief-carved white-glazed examples, including one from the Millicent Rogers Collection and sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lot 2129; a pair sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 April 2007, lot 725; and a meiping from the Leshantang Collection and sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 11 April 2008, lot 2507.