A Guide To Chinese Antique Vase Shapes

An exceptionally rare double gourd Tianqi and Qiangjin lacquer vase - Qianlong mark and period.
An exceptionally rare double gourd Tianqi and Qiangjin lacquer vase – Qianlong mark and period.

Over the centuries Chinese ceramics have developed in a wide range of shapes, some forms were based on earlier jade carvings or bronze castings. They constantly evolved throughout history. There are about 20 basic shapes of antique Chinese vases. Below I have listed several, along with a few tisanes to enjoy as we delve into the past.

Cong Vase 琮式瓶

Cong Vase 琮式瓶

Jade congs came in many sizes and were often found in tombs. Their original function is unknown. The shape came back into vogue during the Song 960-1279 and Yuan 1271-1368 dynasty’s then again during the Qianglong period 1736-1795 and again became popular in the 19th century as a porcelain form. The original shape is a square, rising from a short circular foot and surmounted by a short circular neck.

Catnip tisane, good for an upset stomach.

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
½ an inch of stick cinnamon
A teaspoon of dried catnip
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8 and honey into cup. Put water, cinnamon and catnip into a pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into cup, stir and enjoy.


Double Gourd – Huluping -葫芦瓶

Double Gourd - Huluping -葫芦瓶

The shape of the double gourd was derived from the gourd plant itself during the Southern Song dynasty. Gourds were thought to have mystical healing properties and are a fertility symbol. They are also a Daoist emblem of immortality. Then during the Kangxi period, triple gourds examples were made.

Elderberry Tisane, good for common colds.

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of dried camomile
1 teaspoon of dried elderberry flowers
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8 and honey into a cup. Put water, camomile and elderberry into a pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a cup, stir and enjoy.


Pear Shaped – Yuhuchunping – 玉壶春瓶

Pear Shaped - Yuhuchunping - 玉壶春瓶

First produced for temples in the Tang dynasty 618-907 to hold water. The shape was popularized during the Song dynasty 960-1279 as wine vessels. This tradition went on right up until the Qing dynasty. It is characterized by a slight flared rim, a straight neck that broadens at the end, a bottom heavy body and short foot ring.

Ginseng Tisane, helps with fatigue.

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of dried sliced root ginseng
1 teaspoon of crushed caraway seed
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8 and honey into a cup. Put water, ginseng and caraway seed into a pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a cup, stir and enjoy.


Mallet Shape  – Yaolingzun – 摇铃尊

Mallet Shape  - Yaolingzun - 摇铃尊

The mallet vase is a shape that came from Iran and Egypt glass ware, entering China in the 11th century. In China, the Ru ware mallet vase was done in porcelain, it resembles a hand bell or mallet. With a flared mouth, a slender neck with narrow fillet collaring base, rounded shoulders and a slightly splayed foot.

Lemon balm Tisane, helps to ease tension.

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of dried lemon balm leaves
1 teaspoon of dried mint leaves
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8 and honey into a cup. Put water, lemon balm and mint into a pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a cup, stir and enjoy.


Moon Flask – Baoyuenping – 抱月瓶

Moon Flask - Baoyuenping - 抱月瓶

Moon flasks were first produced during the Ming dynasty 1368-1644 and the shape was based on Middle Eastern vessels of gold and silver. The word “Baoyue” means ’embracing the moon’ They are characterized by a circular flattened body, a flat base, a narrow cylindrical neck and two arched handles on the side.

Licorice Tisane, helps to ease tension.

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of dried sliced root licorice
1 teaspoon of crushed cardamom pods
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8 and honey into a cup. Put water, licorice and cardamom into a pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a cup, stir and enjoy.


Garlic-Head Shape – Suantouping – 蒜头瓶

Garlic-Head Shape - Suantouping - 蒜头瓶

The garlic head shaped vase was first produced in bronze during the Han dynasty (206BC – 220AD). The body of the vase is pear-shaped, with a slender neck rising to a garlic bulb shaped mouth. The porcelain type were produced in the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644)

Mullein Tisane, helps to ease chest congestion.

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of dried mullein leaves
1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seed
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8 and honey into a cup. Put water, mullein and fennel seed into a pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a cup, stir and enjoy.


Meiping – Plum Vase – 梅瓶

Meiping - Plum Vase - 梅瓶

Earliest examples produced in the Tang dynasty (618-907) were used as wine jars, but by the Song dynasty (960 – 1279) they were used to display plumb blossoms. Meiping translates into plumb vase. It was considered to be the perfect shape to hold a plumb branch. It has a narrow mouth, a small neck resting on high broad shoulders and a tall body tapering off to a shallow foot ring.

Thyme Tisane, helps with a sore throat and cough.

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8 and honey into a cup. Put water, thyme and peppermint into a pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a cup, stir and enjoy.


Pomegranate Vase – Shiliuzun – 石榴尊

Pomegranate Vase - Shiliuzun - 石榴尊

This vase originated in the Yongzheng period (1722 – 1735) during the Qing dynasty. Its form was taken from the pomegranate. The vase is a symbol of happiness and fertility. It has a globular body, sweeping up to a short flared neck.

Turmeric Tisane, helps with depression.

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of sliced root ginger
½ a teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8 and honey into a cup. Put water, ginger and turmeric into a pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a cup, stir and enjoy.

Chinese Antique Valuations And Appraisals

Do you own a piece of Chinese porcelain or an oriental work of art that you would like to know more about, such as age, history and value?

Then you should really consider using our Chinese Antique Valuation Service as the last thing you want to do is risk under selling the piece due to lack of knowledge or ill gotten advice.