The shape of this tripodal vessel, called chüeh, derives from ancient Shang dynasty (12th-11th century B.C.) ritual bronzes. Those bronzes were used for the ceremonial heating and drinking of wine. But this cup and stand probably served as a small water container or brush washer. Although blue-and-white porcelain is more decorative than "organic taste" scholar's objects, the reference here to China's antiquity and illustrious Bronze Age would have made this piece acceptable to 18th-century literati.