This magnificent vessel belongs to an exclusive group of jadeite censers that are carved from exceptionally high quality and valuable material. The present censer compares very closely to a jadeite censer from the Baron Fujita Collection sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 2 May 2000, lot 797. While there are slight variations in the decorative bands and the absence of ring handles on the Fujita censer, the form and choice of material are very close. For other example of this archaic form using exceptional jadeite material of translucent apple-green tone from the Jingguantang Collection, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 3 November 1996, lot 602.
Compare also related jadeite examples modelled in a compressed globular form and supported on tripod feet. For example the tripod censer and cover from the Jingguantang Collection, lot 601; two others of equally superb quality from American museum collections, the first from the T. B. Walker Foundation, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 17 November 1988, lot 299, and the second from the Cleveland Museum of Art Collection, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30 October 1991, lot 381; and another example, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 31 May 2010, lot 2089.
Jadeite was known during the Ming Dynasty but was not generally accepted as material for carvings until the latter part of the Qianlong reign in the late 18th century. A generic jade material from Burma, jadeite was distinct from nephrite in appearance and texture, with a brilliant spectrum of colours, and as such, jadeite was of historical importance largely for the development of jade as jewellery in China. During the later 19th century, the glass-like translucency of the rarest emerald-green coloured jadeite came to be prized by the ladies of the Qing court, led by the formidable Empress Dowager Cixi herself. From then on, gem-quality jadeite became synonymous with status and sophistication.