During the Ming dynasty ivory tablets of this type were carried by officials of the first to fifth rank when having an audience with the Emperor. Although this practice was discontinued during the Qing dynasty, they continued to be made for the antiquarian market. A plain hu of similar length inscribed with a date corresponding to 1594 is illustrated in Chinese Ivories from the Kwan Collection, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1990, no. 91, with another also dated to the Ming dynasty, no. 92. See, also, the hu similarly stained and incised with an elaborate figural scene illustrated by G. Joice et al., Ivories in the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum, 1987, no. 2, where the authors suggest an early Qing date.