Writing boxes like the present lot are based on Islamic metal forms, and comparable blue and white examples can be found in as early as the 15th century. Originally the box probably had three smaller covers for the circular apertures; however, these are now lost. It is very rare to find ink-boxes of this design and especially with a lavender glaze. An almost identical box was sold Christie's London, The E. T. Hall Collection of Chinese Monochrome Porcelains, 7 June 2004, lot 285. Two Qianlong examples, both covered in a celadon glaze, are also recorded. One is in the Baur Collection, illustrated by John Ayers, The Baur Collection, Chinese Ceramics, vol. II, Ming Porcelains and Other Wares, Geneva, 1969, no. A 376; and the other in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, is illustrated in Toki Zenshu, vol. 16, Tokyo, 1957, pl. 64.
Compare also a Kangxi blue and white example in the Eumorfopoulos Collection illustrated by R. Hobson, George Eumorfopoulos Collection of Chinese Porcelain and Persian Pottery & Porcelain, vol. V, pl. VII, no. E. 34. A famille verte example in the Salting Collection is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.