A Parisian craftsman took two Chinese bowls, inverting one to create a lid, and set them with gilt bronze mounts to form a vessel for potpourri. Containers for potpourri first appeared in the 1700s in France and were soon produced in large numbers from gold, silver, porcelain, or lacquer. To create potpourri, fashionable women experimented with dried flower petals and spices to achieve the finest fragrances, some of which were left to mature for up to nine years. Perfumes and potpourri were liberally used to disguise malodorous air, as indoor plumbing was nonexistent and frequent bathing was considered unhealthy.
The soft gray-green color of the glaze on this bowl is known as celadon. The name is probably a corruption of Saladin (Salah-ed-din), Sultan of Egypt, who sent forty pieces of ceramics decorated with this glaze to the Sultan of Damascus in 1171. Alternatively, some scholars think the name was taken from the gray-green costume of Céladon, a character in a French play of the 1600s.