The bronze vessel from which the present vessel takes its inspiration is the gong, a ritual wine vessel. The bronze gong is one of the wine vessel types that appeared during the Anyang period of the Shang dynasty without being based on earlier ceramic prototypes, and by the middle of the Western Zhou dynasty it had disappeared. The shape of the vessel facilitated pouring the wine, while the cover sealed in warmth and kept out contaminants. These ritual wine vessels were often cast with fascinating zoomorphic imagery, and all basically share the same general shape, with some of rectangular form and some of more graceful oval section.
Gong also vary in the arrangement of the decoration; on some there are horizontal and vertical divisions created by vertical flanges on the body only, while on others the decoration on the sides of the body is a direct continuation of an animal on the cover. The small posts on the cover of the present jade gong most likely represent simplified horns, perhaps those of a dragon. However, in the present gong, the body has been left undecorated to highlight the soft, lustrous quality of the yellow stone.
A green jade 'dragon-tail' gong, the exterior carved as a dragon and inscribed with a Qianlong poem dated 1787 referencing its archaism, is in the collection of Palace Museum, and is illustrated in Zhongguo Meishu Quanji, vol. 9, Beijing, 1986, no. 318.