Bowls and covers of this form, also known as lian, served as vessels to carry grooming tools and cosmetics in ancient China. In the Qing imperial court, such bowls were often fashioned from wood, and either adorned with auspicious carved decoration or inlaid with jade. Jade bowls as such would have been a testament to the owner’s family status and wealth, and sometimes formed part of a lady’s dowry.
A bowl and cover in the Palace Museum, Beijing, of similar form and also adorned with a pronounced everted rim, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures from the Palace Museum. Jadeware (III), Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 198. Noteworthy is that the majority of the surface of the present bowl has been left plain and undecorated, this treatment is probably intentional to draw attention to the natural beauty and even stone colour of the present bowl, which excels that of the Palace Museum example.
Compare a bowl and cover of similar form but carved with dragons, illustrated in Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 79; and another similarly decorated with the bajixiang but in shallow relief, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27th November 2013, lot 3398.
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