There are two distinct groups of guan, related in their different patterns of development in decorative style:
A.) The squat compressed globular jars with short necks and generally three to four bands of decoration around the body, the main band often being a peony scroll or fish amongst water weeds. The more squat versions of these are often unbanded, with only one decorative theme running from the foot to the shoulder
B.) Those with taller sloping shoulders, ribbed at the neck and with slightly dished mouths, painted with four or five bands between the foot and shoulders
The present example falls into this latter category, which in itself includes another two subsidiary groups:
i.) Shorter guan ranging from about 36 to 46 cm. high
ii.) Those taller than the first, with handles modeled as 'dragon-carp'
Group (i.) generally have monster-mask handles pierced for the insertion of loose ring handles, as can be seen on the jar with cover, similar to the present example except for the substitution of dragons on the shoulder and a band of aster meander encircling the neck, unearthed in 1980 in a large hoard of middle and late Yuan porcelain, Gaoan county, Jinagxi province, and now in the Goan County Museum, Jiangxi province, illustrated in Zhongguo Wenwu Jinghua (Gems of China's Cultural Relics), Beijing, 1990, no. 170
The present example, which also belongs to the same type as the Goan county jar and cover, is most closely related in design to a jar without cover illustrated by R. Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994, vol. 2, no. 640, which has the same peony and phoenix bands, but has an additional band of aster scroll below the bajixiang-filled lappets on the shoulder and a wave band, rather than the blackberry lily scroll, encircling the neck
Other jars of this type, with a lotus band, rather than phoenix band, on the shoulder above the broader band of peony scroll and with the wave band (not blackberry lily) encircling the neck are illustrated in Underglaze Blue & Red, Shanghai Museum, 1987, no. 9, in the Anhui Provincial Museum; and by Krahl, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, London, 1986, vol. II, no. 581 and col. pl. p. 408. These two are also similar to a jar without cover sold in our London salerooms, June 6, 1988, lot 149, and now in the Tsui Museum of Art.
The unusual blackberry lily meander encircling the neck of this example can also be found encircling the neck of a jar this type in the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, illustrated by Toru Nakano, The Panoramic Views of Chinese Patterns, Japan, 1985, no. 9