This magnificent vase is one of a series of monumental jade vessels which bear the mark Qianlong fanggu, 'Made in imitation of antiquity during the Qianlong reign'. The Qianlong emperor had a particular penchant for the archaic, commissioning the production of various types of ware in different medium in imitation of anicent ritual vessels. The pure and refined material of jade offered a challenging yet conducive surface on which to show the virtuouso skill of the carvers in reproducing the highly prized vessels of a bygone era. The present vase is very much the companion vessel to the preceding lot, although carved with slightly less complex patterns.
Few jades carved in the archaic style are exact copies of particular pieces, but rather tend to exhibit a fusion of styles from various periods, including contemporary 18th-century design elements. The taotie mask, which is the carved decoration featured in the present and previous lots, is the principal decorative motif on Shang dynasty ritual vessels. Encompassing a pair of eyes, nose, mouth, ears and horns, the mythical creature, however, cannot be identified as any specific creature and scholars still puzzle over the meaning of the taotie mask and the development of this iconography. The scrolls and designs around the pair of eyes, nevertheless, make a symmetrical motif filling up both narrow and broad friezes, resulting in a versatile design that found popularity from the Shang to Qing dynasties.