This rare vessel appears to have been based on a very similar bronze vessel depicted in the bronze catalogue Xiqing gujian, compiled in 1749. (Fig. 1) It is in vol. 11, no. 29, of the 1908 edition, and illustrated by Bèatrice Quette (ed.) in Cloisonné: Chinese Enamels from the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, Bard Graduate Center, New York, 2011, p. 89. As with the present vessel, the flanges do not appear to be truly notched, but made to appear so. The shape of the bird, decoration on the body, and shape of the wheel spokes are all similar. A late Ming dynasty version of this vessel in bronze, which also appears to be very similar, is in the National Palace Museum, and illustrated in Through the Prism of the Past, Taipei, 2003, p. 174, pl. III-42.
Wheeled bird-form vessels executed in cloisonné enamel appear to have appealed to the craftsmen of the Qianlong period, as evidenced by others of varying type that have been published. Two dated to the Qianlong period, are also illustrated by Quette in Cloisonné, p. 269, no. 88, in the Brooklyn Museum, and no. 89, in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which has an inscribed four-character Qianlong mark. Another vessel of this type is illustrated in Enamel Ware in the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1999, no. 70. See, also, the two vessels illustrated by H. Brinker and A. Lutz in Chinese Cloisonné: The Pierre Uldry Collection, The Asia Society Galleries, New York, 1989, nos. 257 and 258. The original inspiration for all of these vessels would have been bronze zun in the shape of a standing bird with downward-curved tail made during the Western Zhou period, none of which, however, had wheels.