The base of this elaborately carved nine dragon box is engraved and gilded with the six-character reign mark of the Chien-lung emperor. During the transitional period between the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties (1610-1738) little or no official carved lacquer was sponsored by the court. This changed in 1739 when an official lacquer workshop was established in Suchou, and from then on a great many imperial pieces were produced. The official carved lacquers of the Ch'ien-lung reign are often distinguished by a high level of craftsmanship and a fussiness of design.
This cover and box are decorated with nine five-clawed dragons cavorting in clouds in pursuit of flaming pearls. Nine was an auspicious number, and nine dragons were used throughout the Ch'ing dynasty as an official emblem. All formal and semiformal court robes, for instance, were emblazoned with nine dragons. This presentation box is carved in the t'i-ts'ai technique which involves carving to various depths to expose different color layers, creating a polychrome effect. The base is incised and gilded with the six-character reign mark of the Ch'ien-lung emperor.