Bottles of this form are rare. It is essentially a sphere with slight vertical but no lateral compression, to which neck and foot have been added. Set on a broad foot rim that gives it great stability, it seems designed to sit rather than be carried around.
Moreover, it is unusual in that its main decoration is an inscription, and it also displays around the shoulders an atypical border design where a formalized lingzhi
-head shoulder band is attached to a neck band of plantain leaves.
The lotus-petal border round the base of this example is cut to shape and then detailed only with engraved lines, a feature unusual for this design and not exhibited by any of the imperial group. If it is imperial, this may have been made later than the Qianlong period, perhaps in the early decades of the nineteenth century, although the very crisp and confident foot rim is perhaps more typical of the eighteenth century. With such an unusual bottle, however, it may be unwise to read too much into this single feature.
It is said that the scholar who had won first place in the palace examination was required to stand outside the hall of the palace to await the official roster. The designated spot to wait was beside a sculpture of a giant turtle standing at the top of a flight of steps leading to the palace hall.