This flattened double-gourd shape was thought to have been inspired by early Islamic metalwork; the ceramic form first appeared in the early Ming dynasty when it was made both in the Yongle and Xuande periods. It is highly unusual to find this shape among early Qing ceramics.
The only other known moonflask of almost the same size (23 cm. high) and decorated in almost the same pattern, from the collection of Eugene O. Perkins, is illustrated by Geng Baochang, Mingqing Ciqi Jiangding, Hong Kong, 1993, col. pl. 96; sold in Hong Kong, 29 April 1997, lot 404. The Perkins flask differs slightly from the present example in that it is painted with a large stylised floral bloom with a whorl at the centre, possibly representing a peony.
The form is listed among a set of line drawings of ceramic shapes from the Kangxi period, cf. Geng Baochang, op. cit., p. 189, no. fig. 336, no. 3. The author suggested that the revived shape was influenced by Chinese export ceramics, more usually seen in underglaze-blue and polychrome wares, ibid, p. 191.