The short poem describes the two ladies who are joined in their pursuits of study and learning.
From the inscription the two figures depicted can be identified as the two legendary beauties of the Han dynasty. Known as Da Qiao and Xiao Qiao, they were the daughters of Qiao Xuan, and were immortalised in the classical novel, Sanguo Zhiyanyi, 'The Romance of the Three Kingdoms' as their respective planned marriages were one of the factors that influenced Cao Cao to begin his first southern campaign which culminated in the spectacular battle of the Red Cliffs.
There are two comparable examples carved with this subject-matter of two ladies seated on a day-bed, the first is inscribed with the name of Wu Zhifan, is illustrated by Wang Shixiang, Zhuke Jianshang, Taiwan, 1996, no. 14; and the other is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, illustrated by C. Clunas, Chinese Carving, London, 1996, p. 48, fig. 46.