Making food offerings to the monkhood is one of the most important rituals of the laity in a Buddhist society. It is a way for followers of Buddhism to gain merit and ensure better prospects in their next lives. Vessels such as this were owned by well-to-do families and used for taking gifts of cooked food to the monastery and for displaying the offerings on alter tables within the temples.
The decoration of this hsun ok is typical of the Mandalay style of the mid-to-late 19th century. It consists of raised geometric and floral designs modeled in thayo, a kind of lacquer putty rolled into strands and attached to the still tacky surface of the vessel. Fragments of green and white glass were imbedded and after the red lacquer base had hardened the vessel was gilded with gold leaf.