Ewers of this type belong to a group of ritual wares that was specially commissioned by the Qing Court for placement on Buddhist altars for ceremonial use in palaces and temples either within the Forbidden Palace or the Bishushanzhuang in Chengde. Its unusual shape with its broad mouth rim and lack of a handle was inspired by Tibetan metal examples that were made as containers for the storage of Sacred Water and used during Buddhist ceremonies. A Tibetan gold vessel from the Tibet Museum collection was included in the exhibition, Treasures from Snow Mountains, Shanghai Museum, 2001, and illustrated in the catalogue, p. 158, no. 74. It is interesting to note that the ceramic version closely imitates the metal form, for example in the beaded borders, dragon-headed spout, the bajixiang decoration and band of curling leaves on the foot.
An almost identical ewer, but with white ground, was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 29 October 1996, lot 759. Compare, also, similar examples of the same shape and design, although with different ground colors such as the green-ground example from the W. G. Gulland Bequest, Victoria and Albert Museum, illustrated by R. Kerr, Chinese Ceramics, Porcelain of the Qing Dynasty 1644-1911, London, 1986, p. 115, no. 101; and a gold-ground ewer from the Hong Kong Museum of Art, illustrated in The Wonders of the Potter's Palette, Qing Ceramics from the Collection of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1984, p. 113, no. 68. Other comparable examples include the four variations of the same shape, but with slightly different decorative designs, illustrated in Monarchy and Its Buddhist Way, Tibetan-Buddhist Ritual Implements in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1999, p. 189, no. 95; a green and gold example in the National Palace Museum, Taipei illustrated in Emperor Ch'ienlung's Grand Cultural Enterprise, Taipei, 2002, p. 50, no. 1-38; and an underglazed-blue ewer decorated with iron-red bats and dragons, illustrated in Chinese Porcelain, The S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Hong Kong, 1987, part I, no. 118.