The most closely related example to the present lot is another jade square bowl with the dragon similarly coiled around a bar across the top, illustrated by James Watt, Chinese Jades from the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum, Washington, 1989, no. 77, where the author explains that these large square cups were sometimes used in the Qing period as libation or offering cups for ceremonial purposes, even if the design and shape made it impractical for drinking. Another square vessel of this form carved with high-relief chilong dragons on the sides and across the top bar is illustrated in Gems of Beijing Cultural Relics Series, Beijing, 1999, pl. 242.
The shape of this bowl owes its inspiration to a well-known group of porcelain vessels dating from the Jiajing and Wanli periods of the Ming dynasty; see, for example, a pair of wucai bowls of square section enamelled with figures around the sides, from the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, illustrated in Imperial Overglaze-Enamelled Wares in the Late Ming Dynasty, Japan, 1995, pl. 5. Likewise, the dragon is executed in Ming style, with a chunky body. Unusually, as opposed to most renditions of a fierce dragon, the present beast has a somewhat satisfied look on its face, as it clutches onto the 'flaming pearl'. The treatment of the Immortals around the exterior sides, however, lend themselves to a more 18th-century style of carving, with exceptionally high relief, meticulous detailing and with a high polish.