Previously sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 18 May 1988, lot 230, and again in these Rooms, 4 November 1996, lot 740.
The form of this vase is based on a jade cong ritual object with a circular core and a square exterior, often with stylised masks carved in horizontal registers at the corners. For an example, see the jade cong dating to the Neolithic Period, Liangzhu Culture, in the Nanjing Museum, included in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Exhibition, China, 5000 Years, New York, 1998, Catalogue, no. 5.
As early as the Song Dynasty, the Imperial court was fascinated with archaic objects and many wares were produced in imitation of ancient forms, including that of the cong. As such, the present vase may not only be emulating the jade prototype, but also the ceramic form of the Song period, such as the Longquan celadon version illustrated by A. du Boulay, Christie's Pictorial History of Chinese Ceramics, London, 1984, p. 94, no. 2.
This type of robin's-egg-glazed vase with the unusual undulating band is very rare. An identical cong-form vase from the J. M. Hu Family Collection was sold at Sotheby's New York, 4 June 1985, lot 44; while a taller example is in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Kangxi Yongzheng Qianlong, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 456, no. 138.