Jars of this form were made for the Imperial altars where the emperor personally made sacrifices, a ceremonial tradition that was first established by the Ming dynasty Hongwu emperor as recorded in the Da Ming Huidian. These sacrificial wares were separated into four colours with each designated for a specific altar: white for the Yuetan, Altar of the Moon; red for the Chaoritan, Altar of the Sun; yellow for the Diqitan, Altar of Earth; and blue for the Tiantan, Altar of Heaven.
Compare with jars of this form decorated with a yellow glaze, for the Altar of Earth, the first illustrated in The National Palace Museum Special Exhibition of Qing Monochromes, 1981, Taipei, pl. 28; and another example in the Nanjing Museum, included in the joint exhibition, Qing Imperial Porcelain of the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong Reigns, Hong Kong, 1995, illustrated in the Catalogue, fig. 65.
Other sacrificial jars with iron-red glaze, for the Altar of the Sun, are known, the first from the Salting Bequest and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, is illustrated by R. Kerr (Ed.), Chinese Ceramics - Porcelain of the Qing Dynasty 1644-1911, 1986, col. pl. 9, p.24; and the other was sold in our New York Rooms, 29 March 2006, lot 524. A pale blue glaze jar also from the Salting Bequest is illustrated by R. Kerr, op. cit., pl. 15, p. 32, where the author mentioned that it was made for the Altar of the Moon.
A sapphire-blue glaze jar dedicated to the Altar of Heaven was sold in these Rooms, 30 May 2005, lot 1250.