From the Chinese inscription, the present covers were for the third volume of the Avatamsaka sutra.
Compare the pair of similar covers, dated ca. 1410, published by J.C.Y. Watt and B.B. Ford, East Asian Lacquer: The Florence and Herbert Irving Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1991, pp. 116-7, where the authors note that these lacquered covers provide the earliest examples of Ming style qiangjin work. Developed during the Southern Song period, qiangjin is a technique where channels carved into a lacquer groove are then filled with gold leaf or powder. The covers demonstrate an evolution in this technique from a more sharply cut free-form incision with a straight-edged instrument to a U-shaped groove produced with a channelling tool resulting in evenly spaced incisions.
In 1410 the Yongle Emperor commissioned the printing of the Kanjur (bKa'-'gyur), the Tibetan Buddhist canon, which consisted of 108 volumes. Subsequently, manuscript covers were made for sets of the Kanjur. One set was presented to the abbott of the Sa-skya monastary, Kun-brkas-pa, when he visited Nanjing in 1414, and was stored in the monastery in Tibet until the Cultural Revolution when it was moved to the Potala Palace. The decoration on the covers of the Sa-skya set are very similar to that of the Irving set, as well as the present set. According to Watt and Ford, op. cit., the covers for a set presented to the Sera monastary in 1416 appears to be similar but less elaborate.
Other sets are illustrated in 2000 Years of Chinese Lacquer, Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong and the Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1993, no. 79 and by R.D. Jacobsen, Appreciating China, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2002, no. 48.