It is rare to find such a finely carved bamboo miniature 'grotto' group. A number of larger bamboo examples of mountain and grotto groups have been published. See two examples from the Lutz Collection, exhibited at the Denver Art Museum, Selections from the Lutz Bamboo Collection, October - December 1981, nos. 17 and 18. The theme was more commonly depicted during the 18th century using other materials including jade and hardstone.
The present scene may be based on the Ming dynasty woodblock print San cai tu hui, which illustrates the story of the woodcutter, Wang Zhi, who one day went up the Shishi Mountain to cut wood. Wang came across two men playing weiqi in a grotto and stayed to watch until his return home when he found he had been away for hundreds of years. Since Wang no longer had any surviving relatives and friends, he returned to the mountain and gained enlightenment.