In Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture, Hong Kong, 1990, vol. I, pp. 54-56, Wang Shixiang notes that the form of the present table is referred to as a jiuzhuo, and illustrates a closely related example in black lacquer in vol. II, p. 78, no. B36. While the author notes that the exact origin of the name jiuzhuo is unknown, it was associated with tables of this general form which appear in Ming dynasty paintings and are used to serve wine and food. Wang continues to say that these wine tables typically have raised, beaded edges on the top frame, presumably to prevent run-off from spilled wine.
The present wine table is an exceptionally rare example of early imperial lacquer furniture, which rarely survives in such well-preserved condition. Of particular note are the remnants of gilded dragons chasing flaming pearls, which can be seen on the aprons, and on the exterior and interior of the legs and stretchers. This decoration can also be seen on a nearly identical mother-of-pearl-inlaid black lacquer table in the Qing Court collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - Furniture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (I), Hong Kong, 2002, p. 128, no. 108. (Fig.1) The only difference between the illustrated table and the present table appears to be that the present table has an original red lacquer top, while the Qing Court example is completely embellished in mother of pearl, and while the illustrated table has an incised Wanli six-character mark in a line, and the present table has a red lacquer six-character Wanli mark in a line, they both appear in the same location on the underside of the table in the middle of the center transverse stretcher.
As can be expected, variations on this type of table are well known, although the majority of examples appear to be in lacquer as opposed to hardwood. The form seems to have become popular by the early Ming dynasty, as evidenced by a red lacquer low reading table of similar form, in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, illustrated by R. Jacobsen and N. Grindley in Classical Chinese Furniture, Minnesota, 1999, pp. 92-3, no. 26, where it is dated to the Yongle period. Gradually, by the middle Ming dynasty, the form grew significantly in popularity, perhaps reaching its height during the Wanli reign, as many lacquer tables in this form bear Wanli marks. See, for example, two very similar embellished and painted lacquer tables of this form, one with painted Wanli lacquer mark on the transverse stretcher, illustrated in Ming Qing Gong Jia Ju Da Guan, 2006, p. 617, figs. 744 and 745 respectively.