The beautiful, lace-like decoration on this vase was achieved by painting white enamel on top of the turquoise enamel. In order to provide the desired effect, the decorator would have been at considerable pains to draw the white enamel out to the required thinness and ensure that the fired result was one of delicacy and subtle contrast. The technique is to some extent related to decoration, such as that seen at the early Cizhou kilns, where slip was used beneath the glaze. This was reversed on some porcelains of the late 16th and early 17th century, which were decorated in white slip applied on top of a cobalt blue or iron brown glaze. A vase dated to the Kangxi reign with more delicate white slip decoration on top of a bluish-white glaze, from the Salting Bequest, is illustrated by J. Ayers in Far Eastern Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1980, no. 200. The current technique may also have been inspired by the effect seen when celadon glazes were applied to crisply moulded porcelains. On these the glaze thins on the sharp edges of the moulding producing a pale contrast to the rest of the glaze, as can be seen on the celadon-glazed vase illustrated by J. Ayers in Chinese Ceramics in Baur Collection, vol. 2, Geneva, 1999, no. 295. On vessels decorated using the pale enamel over a turquoise glaze, much more precision and finer lines could be achieved.
A Jiaqing pale turquoise triple gourd vase in the National Palace Museum, Taipei (see Liu Liang-yu in Ch'ing Official and Popular Wares, Aries Gemini Publishing, Taipei, 1991, p. 252, top left), is decorated in the same technique as the current vase and has floral scrolls of the same style. A pale turquoise Jiaqing vase of similar shape to the current example, with the addition of handles on either side of the neck, and decorated with a very similar design scheme in the same technique, is illustrated by Gunhild Avitabile in From the Dragons' Treasure, Bamboo Publishing, London, 1987, p. 29, no. 17.
A pale turquoise Qianlong brush washer in the National Palace Museum, Taipei is decorated with delicate scrolls using the same technique as that seen on the current vase (see Liu Liang-yu, op. cit., p. 193, bottom right illustration). A large pale turquoise Qianlong vase decorated using similar technique and also with floral scrolls and auspicious motifs as its main theme was sold in our Hong Kong Rooms, 29 April 2002, lot 671. Two Qianlong 'bean green' vases apparently with decoration in related technique are illustrated by Qian Zhenzong in Qingdai ciqi shangjian, Shanghai kexue yishu chubanshe, Shanghai, 1994, pp. 150-151, nos. 190 & 191). Although these vases have bird and flower and flower and rock designs, respectively, in contrast to the scrolls of the current vase, the technical approach seems to be similar.