Alongside his patronage of Buddhism, the Wanli emperor was also a devout follower of Daoism. As a result, Buddhist furnishings frequently combined both Buddhist and Daoist imagery. This vase is an example of such blending; while the vase is clearly intended for Buddhist worship, the basket of flowers is the attribute of Lan Caihe, one of the Eight Immortals who grants immortality.
The present vase, which derives its form from bronze originals, is magnificent in size and brilliantly painted, and only a small number of closely related examples are known; one is illustrated in Anthony du Boulay, Christie's Pictorial History of Chinese Ceramics, Oxford, 1984, p. 170, pl. 1, sold at Christie's London, 11th December 1978, lot 111; and a smaller version, in the Matsuoka Art Museum, Tokyo, is illustrated in Mayuyama, Seventy Years, vol. I, Tokyo, 1976, pl. 916.
Compare a vase of related form and large size, but the central body painted with birds amongst rocks and flowers and the neck with dragons, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, included in Zhongguo taoci quanji, vol. 13, Shanghai, 2000, pl. 129; and another, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, published in John Ayers, Far Eastern Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1980, pl. 171.
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