The court wares of the early fifteenth century are generally considered amongst the finest of all Chinese carved lacquer. This well-crafted circular box bears the six-character imperial reign mark of the Yung-lo (1403-1424) emperor on its base. Fine craftsmanship was always stressed in imperial ware. The base coatings alone could consist of over 100 layers of polished lacquer allowing for the deeply carved motifs with soft contours and rounded edges typical of the style.
While boxes with landscapes are no finer than those carved entirely with floral decoration, there are fewer of them remaining and they were considerably more difficult to carve. Landscape scenes such as this were derived from the prestigious painted landscape tradition, a tradition where philosophical themes such as mankind's relationship to nature took precedence over the purely decorative motifs like flowers or geometric patterns.