Aloeswood, chenxiangmu, is the resinous wood from the Aquilaria tree enxiang mu, an evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. The Aquilaria tree frequently becomes infected with a parasite fungus or mould, Phialophora parasitica, and begins to produce an aromatic resin in response to this attack. It is this precious resinous wood that is treasured around the world, particularly in China, Japan and Tibet. Due to the soft and perishable nature of the material, not many examples of aloeswood carving have survived.
Compare to a similarly carved ruyi from the Palace Museum, exhibited at China: The Three Emperors 1662-1795, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2005-2006, Catalogue, pl. 273.