The form of these vases is based on arrow vases, or touhu, the primary accessory of a drinking game which involved throwing all of one's arrows into the mouth of the vessel. The loser was assessed a penalty drink for every errant throw.
Too small to actually be used in the drinking game, the present pair of vases was probably intended to hold flowers, perhaps on a home altar. A pair of Longquan arrow vases of the same height but with wider necks, was recovered from the tomb of the Yuan calligrapher Xian Yushu (1251-1302). See Zhang Yulan, "Hangzhoushi faxian Yuandai Xian Yushu mu," Wenwu, 1990:9, p. 24, figs. 11-12. A similar vase was included in the exhibition, The Scholar as Collector: Chinese Art at Yale, Yale University Art Gallery and China Institute in America, New York, 2004, p. 18, fig. 8.