Crib sheets such as this were smuggled into the examinations for the Chinese civil service by student candidates. These examinations were held in halls of enormous size divided into small cells in which the candidates were confined for 36 hours. If a crib sheet was discovered the candidate was 'turned out'. There were successivly more advanced and difficult levels of examinations. For a discussion of the examination process see, V.M. Garrett, Mandarin Squares, New York, 1990, pp. 5 to 9, where a similar crib sheet is illustrated, p. 8, fig. 2.4.
The type of minute characters used on this rare example of a mandarin's crib sheet are known as 'fly's head' script. The Analects of Confucius was one of the classics which formed the basis of the imperial examinations for entry into the Chinese civil service.