Chenxiangmu, also known as aloeswood or eaglewood, is a resinous wood from the Aquilaria tree (chenxiangmu), an evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. The tree frequently becomes infected with a parasite fungus or mold, Phialophora parasitica, and begins to produce an aromatic resin in response to the attack, a fragrance that permeates the wood, which has made it highly treasured, especially in China, Japan and Tibet. The wood is typically only found in small segments of usable material, which are traditionally pieced together to make small scholar's articles. It is also valuable in the manufacture of incense.
The style of carving on this piece is similar to that of a chenxiangmu brush holder, dated early Qing dynasty, in the Qing Court collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 44 - Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings, Hong Kong, 2002, pp. 52-3, no. 49.