Elegantly and finely carved huanghuali display or bookcases such as the current example are rare. The present bookcase is particularly unusual for the inclusion of a lockable cabinet to one side which would have been used to store small precious objects. Books and scrolls could be stored in cabinets or on open shelves. Scrolls would be placed horizontally on the shelves and books stored flat on their sides with covers facing up.
Compare with a four-shelf bookcase with reticulated latticework railings illustrated by Wang Shixiang, Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, vol. II, Hong Kong, 1990, p. 142, D6. A huanghuali, wumu and tielimu four-shelf bookcase with railings can be found in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, published in Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1999, p. 143. Compare also with a three-shelf huanghuali bookcase from the Dr. S.Y. Yip Collection sold at Christie's New York, The Dr. Yip Collection of Important Chinese Furniture, 20 September 2002, lot 33 with similar cusped ornamental openings.