The present jar richly painted in cobalt blue is among the best examples of the very rare Yuan blue and white wares decorated with dragons. Of the few published jars designed with dragons as a major motif on the body, the closest comparable example is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, illustrated in Yuan Dai Ciqi, Beijing, 1998, p. 54, fig. 60, with a related pair of striding dragons below a similar cloud collar at the shoulder.
Other jars with dragons forming the major decorative band include the example discovered in 1980 from the Gao'an hoard, Jiangxi province, illustrated by Wang Qingzheng, Underglaze Blue and Red, Shanghai Museum, 1987, p. 27, no. 10; an example included in the Idemitsu Museum of Arts special exhibition catalogue The Glory of Chinese Ceramics, One Thousand-Year History of Commercial Kilns at Jingdezhen, 2004, no. 30; and the example sold in these Rooms, 27 October 2003, lot 629.
Jars designed with dragons within a minor band at the shoulder include the example illustrated by J. Ayers (ed.), Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, London, 1986, vol II, p. 407, col. no. 586; and the jar designed with forward and backward-looking dragons, previously sold in our Tokyo Rooms, 27 May 1969, lot 179, and later in the Ataka Collection, illustrated by T. Nakano, The Panoramic Views of Chinese Patterns, Japan, 1985, col. pl. 9.
When comparing the painting style of the dragons, the examples listed above all depict dragons with small pencilled scales, rather than broader scales in graded tones as on the present example. Three Yuan jars have sold at auction painted with these more masterly rendered dragons with broader scales, one example sold in these Rooms, 27 April 1997, lot 686; the other examples sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 26 October 1993, lot 36 and 2 May 2000, lot 650. Another example is illustrated by Henry Trubner, 'In The Pursuit of the Dragon: Traditions and Transitions in Ming Ceramics', Orientations, October 1988, p. 38, pl. 3.
The pendent lappets on the shoulder, each enclosing a dense floral scroll, is found on jars of the finest quality, such as the important copper-red and underglaze-blue jar with open work decoration, first sold in our London Rooms, 5 June 1972, lot 156 (fig. 2) and later offered at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30 October 2002 lot 270.