Tiered boxes are documented as having been in use by the Song dynasty to hold food, drink and small objects during excursions. They come in a variety of sizes, including a particularly large size which required two people to carry. For a further discussion of these tiered boxes, see Wang Shixiang, Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, Hong Kong, 1990, vol. I, pp. 94-6.
A similar three-tiered box, also in zitan and with confronted dragon spandrels and ruyi-head mounts, but in baitong, was sold Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 28 October 1992, lot 273.