A piece such as this would have been commissioned by a European travelling in China and then exported to the West. Padouk is the English term for pterocarpus, a species of huali. It was predominantly used for the manufacture of export furniture. For a discussion on padouk and huali wood, see C. Clunas, Chinese Furniture, V & A Publications, 1997, p.39. A similar document cabinet was sold Christie's London, 19 June 2001, lot 279.