According to an official memorial on wall vases written by Tang Ying (1682-1756) dated to the 7th year (1742), imperial poems were to be inscribed in one of four styles – seal, clerical, cursive and regular scripts – to match the different forms of wall vases.
The poem inscribed on this wall vase, entitled On Porcelain Wall Vase, was written by the Qianlong Emperor in the 30th year of his reign (corresponding to 1765) and was included in a compilation of imperial poems the following year (fig. 1). Four yangcai wall vases in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, are adorned with the same poem, albeit in various scripts: Two handled vases bear inscriptions in regular script (accession nos zhong ci 01932 and 01931), another handled vase features clerical-script poem (zhong ci 01934) and a fourth one running-cursive script (zhong ci 01926). They all bear similar seals reading Qian and Long, and are inscribed with four-character horizontal reign marks. See also a blue-ground gilt-decorated double-gourd wall vase in the Palace Museum, Beijing, decorated with the same poem in regular script, illustrated in Hall of Mental Cultivation of The Palace Museum – Imperial Residence of Eight Emperors, Hong Kong, 2017, cat. no. 53.
Evenly enveloped by a Longquan-inspired celadon glaze and pencilled in gilt with archaistic kui dragons, this wall vase exemplifies the Qianlong period's reverence for antiquity. However, despite the chilong handles which draw reference from ancient bronzes, the present flattened rectangular form appears to be a Qianlong period innovation. Wall vases of this form are preserved in the National Palace Museum, Taipei; a robin's-egg glazed archaistic example similarly decorated with kui dragons in gilt, is included in The Enchanting Splendor of Vases and Planters: A Special Exhibition of Flower Vessels from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Taipei, 2014, no. II-47 (zhong ci 01946). There are also a famille-rose wall vase with floral scrolls (zhong ci 01927) and another decorated with puce enamel (zhong ci 05391).
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