Stupas were originally memorial monuments built over the mortal remains of the Shakyamuni, and other important figures. They represent the past and the present, and are a symbol of Nirvana. The unique architectural form of the present example is strongly influenced by Tibetan characteristics. The square Mt. Sumeru base is Tibetan in style, while the rounded dome is Indian in origin. Above is the harmika, consisting of a conical spire of thirteen layers, symbolic of the thirteen stages of enlightenment.
Compare the nearly identical Qianlong period stupa with a green ground and iron-red decorated base, but of slightly larger (43 cm.) size, illustrated in Zhongguo guojia bowuguan, guancang wenwu yanjiu congshu, ciqijuan, qingdai, Shanghai, 2007, p. 143, no. 95. A similarly decorated white-ground stupa of similar size was sold at Christie's London, 9 November 2010, lot 330; another, larger (44.5 cm. high) with a pink ground was sold at Christie's London, 3 November 2009, lot 280; and a ruby-red-ground stupa, similar in size to the preceding, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 29 April 2002, lot 536.