This cylindrical box consists of two tiered compartments and a slightly draped cover. The cover, as well as the sides of the container, are deeply carved with fruiting branches of lychee within plain narrow borders. The fruits are sometimes depicted with realistic outer skins and sometimes with a lattice diaper pattern, the whole set against a star diaper ground. The lychee probably appears here as a symbol of romance.
The Chinese have eaten both fresh and dried lychees for centuries and the T'ang emperor, Ming-huang, reportedly had the fruit delivered by horseback from southern China to satisfy the cravings of his favorite concubine, Yang Kui-fei. This legend and the general popularity of the fruit help account for its frequent appearance in the decorative arts.