Intact flasks of this type from the Yongle period are illustrated by R. Krahl, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, vol. II, London, 1986, no. 616; J. Ayers, Far Eastern Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1980, no. 145; and J. Harrison-Hall in Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, p. 110, no. 3:21, where it is noted that Yongle examples are far more rare than Xuande ones. Compare, also, with an example sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 28 November 2006, lot 1512.
These moonflasks were made primarily for export or as gifts to Near Eastern rulers. For the origins of this shape and decoration, see B. Gray, 'The Influence of Near Eastern Metalwork on Chinese Ceramics', T.O.C.S., 1940-41, vol. 18, p. 57 and pl. 7F; and M. Medley, 'Islam and Chinese Porcelain in the 14th and early 15th Centuries', Bulletin of the Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, no. 6, 1982-84, fig. 11.