The pattern on the top of the covers can first be seen on carved lacquer circular boxes of the Jiajing period, such as the box included in the Hong Kong O.C.S. exhibition, 2000 Years of Chinese Lacquer, the Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 24 September - 21 November 1993, no. 61, where another similar box with Jiajing mark in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei is mentioned.
As these boxes were greatly admired by the emperor Qianlong, they were much copied during his reign. The present boxes are an elegant variation on this design, incorporating the circular chun design medallion into a square format. Compare the similar box in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, illustrated by R.D. Jacobsen, The Asian Galleries, 1982, p. 58(top). See, also, the pair of boxes of this unusual form, but decorated with a scene of the Eight Luohan on the cover, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 5/6 November 1997, lot 912.