This is undoubtedly the most important ewer among the small group of related examples that have been published, surpassing even the famous ewer from the Cleveland Museum.
In exceptional condition for this type, it is not only of immense academic interest: Regina Krahl, op. cit., p. 37, 'it is one of the most beautiful Song wares ever made'.
Both the present example and the Cleveland ewer are exceptional within the group in having two main bands of ornament around the body, although the latter is carved around the shoulder with only a simple peony scroll above a similarly-carved lower body. It has a comparable handle although its design of birds and fish dispersed over a similar lozenge diaper is again more simple. It also shares a lion-form spout and plain neck. Cf. Gompertz Chinese Celadon Wares, pls. 36-37; Ice and Green Clouds, Traditions in Chinese Celadon, p. 138, no. 52; Sekai Toji Zenshu, vol. 12, col. pl. 183; American Exhibitions of Chinese Art, Catalogue, p. 80, no. 172.
The celebrated ewer from the Musee Guimet lacks the dual bands divided by a central floral flange, having only a more simple allover floral design carved into the body. Its spout is formed by two phoenix heads and its handle has no detailed decoration. Cf. Oriental Ceramics, Kodansha Series, vol. 7, p. 16, col. pl. II.
A ewer from the Hoyt Collection in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has a similar lozenge pattern along the spine of the handle, but no additional decoration. Its body is again an allover floral design and its spout is short and plain. Cf. Oriental Ceramics, Kodansha Series, vol. 11, col. pl. 39. Compare also the similar ewer illustrated in the Chang Foundation Inaugural Catalogue, col. pl. p. 27.
For the remaining examples of related ewers, cf. Ice and Green Clouds, Traditions in Chinese Celadon, pp. 140-141.
The group has often been misleadingly labeled dongyao or 'Eastern' ware and associated with kilns in the area of Kaifeng, Henan, the Northern Song Capital. However, there is no archaeological evidence to support this and it is now generally accepted that the ewers compare with sherds found in the Huangbaozhen kilns in Tongchuan county, Shaanxi province, which belong to the Yaozhou group of celadon kilns.
Both the Cleveland and present ewers appear to draw on Tang metalwork for their decoration. This is more pronounced in the present example which if viewed from above reflects a certain type of Tang mirror in the treatment of birds in relief flying among an undulating foliate scroll surrounded by a floral rim. Cf. Ancient Chinese Arts in the Idemitsu Collection, col. pls. 306-308. Compare also the gold and silver boxes with repousse decoration depicting similar small birds flying among foliage illustrated in Gold and Silver Wares of the Tang Dynasty, figs. 210-216.
The Cleveland ewer is also illustrated by Jennifer Neils, The World of Ceramics: Masterpieces from the Cleveland Museum of Art, no. 104; Sherman Lee, A History of Far Eastern Art, fig. 496; and by Jan Wirgin, Sung Ceramic Designs, pl. 26, fig. 16.