The use of Chinese symbolism in a scene clearly of European inspiration is interesting. The goat-herder's staff has been replaced by a ruyi and one of the kids is represented with a lingzhi in its mouth conforming to the typical Chinese depiction of three rams symbolising the New Year bringing a change of fortune, Sanyang kaitai.
Compare with two small 18th century ivory carvings depicting similarly rendered figures of foreigners, one of three foreigners in a boat included in the Oriental Ceramics Society Exhibition jointly held with the British Museum, Chinese Ivories from the Han to the Qing, 1984, Catalogue, no. 261; the other, a seated boy from the Ionides Collection, Sussex, illustrated by S. Jenyns, Chinese Art, The Minor Arts II, London, 1963, no. 99.