An exceptionally large and spectacular example of bright green (fei-ts'ui
) jadeite, this vessel is one of the highlights of the T. B. Walker collection. The artist has contrasted large areas of smooth undecorated surface with smaller areas of superbly detailed carving. The Buddhist lion dogs surmounting the lid and animal masks on the handles and legs were symbolic guardians, most frequently seen flanking the entrances of important Ming and Ch'ing buildings. Like white jade, fei-ts'ui
or "kingfisher feather blue" was a highly prized color during the nineteenth century and continues to be so today. The term aptly describes the bright and luminous turquoise-green jadeite, of which this imperial vessel is one of the finest examples known.
Many decorative art objects were sold from the imperial collection following the fall of the Ch'ing dynasty in 1912. The last emperor, Pu-yi, and his retainers, though stripped of power were allowed to keep the imperial treasures. Records show that T. B. Walker purchased this piece in 1914.