The most common decoration of Cizhou ware consists of bold black-and-white patterns. These designs were created using many techniques, including carving and painting. By the 12th century, potters making Cizhou ware began to paint directly onto the slip covering the body, a technique that both saved time and enabled a more fluid design. The peony design on this vase was painted with a black pigment on a white slip background. The vase was then covered with a transparent green glaze.
The zun shape derives ultimately from bronze wine vessels produced during the Shang and Zhou periods (c. 1700-221 BCE), and the reappearance of this shape in 12th-century ceramics most likely reflects the antiquarianism popular during the Northern Song period (960-1126). Ceramic and bronze vessels in this shape were commonly used as furnishings for family altars, and the revival of this form during the Song period coincides with a resurgence of Confucianism, which emphasized ancestor worship. The appearance of the zun form in Cizhou ware attests to the enormous variety of techniques, shapes, and designs in Song-era ceramics.