Qianlong ewers of this Tibetan shape entirely painted with flower scrolls are rare. They are better known painted with the motif of bajixiang amongst lotus scrolls in famille-rose enamels on colour-ground. Compare the green-ground ewer in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, illustrated in Rose Kerr, Chinese Ceramics. Porcelain of the Qing Dynasty, London, 1986, pl. 101; the gold-ground ewer included in the exhibition The Wonders of the Potter's Palette, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1984, cat.no. 68; and the ewer decorated in gilt relief on a green ground included in the Special Exhibition of K'ang-hsi, Yung-cheng and Ch'ien-lung Porcelain, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1986, cat.no. 110.
Two ewers of this design were sold in these rooms, 26th October 1993, lot 254; and another, 1st November 1994, lot 194. For later examples see a Jiaqing ewer of this form and decoration sold in our London rooms, 2nd May 2000, lot 732; and a Daoguang vessel, from the Yongzhitang collection, sold at Christie's Singapore, 30th March 1998, lot 263.
Rose Kerr suggests, op.cit., p. 114, that such ewers were for the use on a Buddhist altar of the Tibetan-inspired lamaist sect which delighted in exotic monster decorations and beaded borders. The Qianlong emperor was a keen follower of Tibetan Buddhism and is known to have commissioned the making of wares used in religious ceremonies or for worship.
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