Three different types of flute - the di, chi and the xiao, - were traditionally played in China. The current porcelain instrument is a rare xiao or vertical flute, molded in imitation of bamboo, at the Dehua kiln, Fujian province. P.J. Donnelly in Blanc de Chine - The Porcelain of Tehua in Fukien, London, 1969, p. 127, discussed the considerable difficulties of producing a flute with good tone out of porcelain, which shrinks considerably when fired.
The dating of these Dehua flutes to the late Ming seems to have been confirmed by Donnelly. In discussing two vertical porcelain flutes from the collection of the late Professor Chen Te-k'un, Donnelly notes, op. cit., p. 126, pl. 68A, that those of late Ming date had their fundamental in d, while those of Qing date had their fundamental in f.
A Dehua vertical flute made to resemble bamboo, like the current example, in the Koger Collection is illustrated by J. Ayers, in the exhibition catalogue, Blanc de Chine - Divine Images in Porcelain, China Institute Gallery, New York, 2002, p. 72, no. 23. An example of a xiao flute in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo wenwu jinghua daquan - taoci juan, Taipei, 1993, p. 408, no. 818, is 57 cm. long.