Gourd-shaped bottles are called huluping in China. In Japan, they were used as flower vases.
The subtle glaze color on this piece is outstanding. The moulded decorations are divided into four sections: Lotus flowers and vines, peonies and vines, mushrooms and clouds, and, again, lotus flowers and vines. These sections are arranged from the bottom upwards.
The bottle was once used as a hanging flower vase; the mark left from the hardware is covered by red lacquer. The name of the vase, Gankai (Chinese: Yanhui), after the first disciple of Confucius, is written in black lacquer over the red lacquer.
This bottle was imported to Japan before the Momoyama Period and has been preserved as a flower vase ever since.