Compare with a near identical tray in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Gugong Bowu Yuancang diaoqi, Wenwu Chubanshe, 1985, no. 189.
The quality of carving on the present lot and its pair is exceptionally fine. The layered lacquer is thicker than most other vessels from this period, and as such, these trays would have required more time and effort in their production.
The shape of the tray is extremely rare. The undulating rim imitates the silhouette of a lotus leaf, echoing the lotus pond theme prevalent in the carved decoration. Unlike most lacquer open vessels of the Ming dynasty, the shape of the tray is not formalised but has an exceptional unrestrained naturalism that is unique to itself. The lotus-leaf shape is seen on earlier wares, such as the two Xuande-marked trays, both with similar wavy rims, but where the undulations are more systematically and formally planned, from the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated op. cit., pls. 82 and 83. Compare also the wavy floral rim on an early 15th-century tray, included in the British Museum exhibition, Chinese and Associated Lacquer from the Garner Collection, 1973, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 36.