The theme of children at play is an enduringly popular one in both Chinese painting and in the Chinese decorative arts. The children were often accompanied by additional symbols, such as lotus flowers or leaves to provide the rebus for 'successive', and pomegranates, which were symbols of progeney. A large carved red lacquer box dated to the 15th century in the National Museums of Scotland depicts 103 boys on its lid, engaged in all kinds of games within a walled garden (illustrated by Hu Shih-chang, Chinese Lacquer, National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1998, pp. 40-1, no. 17). Like the current cup stand, this box shows the boys in a particularly lively manner, and sets them against especially finely carved lattices.
A Jiajing dish in red, yellow and green carved lacquer from the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing has a design of boys playing with the wares of an itinerant knickknack seller (see Wang Shixiang (ed.), Zhongguo gudai qiqi, Wenwu chubanshe, Beijing, 1987, no. 63). A very similar polychrome Jiajing lacquer dish was also included in the exhibition 2000 Years of Chinese Lacquer, Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong and the Art Gallery of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1993, p. 114, no. 57). A carved red lacquer hanging screen in the same exhibition (exhibit no. 72) was decorated with a more extensive depiction of the theme of boys at play, with the number of children coming close to a hundred and shown engaged in a wide range of games within a walled garden. As on the current cup stand and the other vessels noted above, one of the boys rides a hobby horse. The theme of children playing also appears on 16th century lacquer vessels decorated in tianqi and qiangjin techniques, as can be seen on the bowl with inscription dating it to AD 1591, which was also displayed in the Hong Kong exhibition (exhibit no. 86).