The scene is from a section of the Daoist text, Zhuangzhi, which expounds on stories of emperors offering their thrones to hermit-sages. In this instance, the story recalls Emperor Yao of the Xia dynasty who asked Xu You, a former official who served under an earlier ruler, to return to office. Xu You declined the invitation in favour of a rustic life. Compare a similar example painted with the same scene, in the Butler Family collection, illustrated by J.B. Curtis, Chinese Porcelains of the Seventeenth Century: Landscapes, Scholars' Motifs and Narratives, China Institute in America, New York, 1995, p. 142, no. 60. A closely related scene also appears on a brushpot in the collection of Mrs Eugene L. Garbaty, illustrated by S. Little, Chinese Ceramics of the Transitional Period: 1620-1683, China Institute in America, 1984, p. 65, pl. 20a-b.