The present vessel is a smaller version of another coupe in the Hartman Collection, illustrated by Robert Kleiner, ibid., no. 67. The present vessel is small enough to fit perfectly into the palm of the hand, making it an ideal water vessel used to add a controlled flow of water to the inkstand in the preparatory stage of grinding ink for painting or calligraphy.
As there is only a single xi character on the present water coupe, it is possible that this vessel was originally made as part of a pair, to be presented as a wedding gift.
The design of the bridge and suspending tassels can also be found on a brushwasher in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo Yuqi Quanji, vol. 6, no. 318; a very similar water-pot from the Helen and Peter Collection was included in the 45th Anniversary Exhibition of the Min Chiu Society, Auspicious Emblems, Hong Kong, 2005, and illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 218; a slightly smaller water-pot of comparable design is illustrated by Yang Boda (ed.), Essence of Qing Jades, Hong Kong, 1995, pp. 200-201; an example with a Shou character on the bridge is in the Tianjin Municipal Museum, illustrated in Cang Yu, Hong Kong, 1993, pls. 204-205; and another also with a Shou symbol, was included in the Indianapolis Museum of Art exhibition, Three Dynasties of Jade, 1971, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 44.