The style of decoration on this unusual vase is very similar to that on a pair of large garlic-head vases (19½ in.) sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 26-27 April 1998, lot 570. As with the present vase, they too are finely and deeply carved with scenes of immortals bordered by sinuous dragons and reserved against a dense foliate ground, and they also have Qianlong seal marks cast in the metal base.
See, also, the hu with bronze stag-head handles, similarly carved in exacting detail with a continuous scene depicting Xiwangmu and various figures in the 'Southern Imperial Garden' below two poems on the neck, illustrated in Kaikodo Journal, New York, Autumn 1999, no. 70. The metal base is engraved with a six-character inscription written in Manchu which dates the vase to the 'eighth year of the reign of Qianlong (1743)'. The Kaikodo entry notes that when the carving of lacquer was re-introduced during the early Qianlong period, it was done in the palace workshops.