A very similar jade vase and cover of the the same shape and almost identical size (27 cm. high), also carved with prunus blossoms, although lacking magpies, is in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, and is illustrated in Zhongguo Meishu Fenlei Quanji, Hebei, 1991, p. 160, pl. 238. (Fig.1)
The symbolism found on the present jade vase is especially auspicious, as two magpies (xique) amidst bamboo (zhu) and plum (mei), form the rebus zhumei shuangxi, or 'double happiness for the bride and groom'. In this instance, the bamboo and plum represent the happy couple, and the magpies represent double happiness. It is therefore a possibility that the present vase may have been commissioned as a gift on the occassion of a wedding.