The present box and cover belongs to a group of ceramics which were made to simulate other material in a playful attempt at trompe- l'oeil or a 'trick of the eye'. Because of the flexibility and ease of use of ceramic clay and the expansive range of enamel colours available, many porcelain items during the Qianlong period were made to imitate other things.
Compare with another box simulating stacked books and with the addition of seals and a seal-paste box on the cover, from the Palace collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 147, and included in the exhibition Treasures of the Last Emperor, China Institute in America, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 35. The Palace Museum box is catalogued as an "insect cage". Both the present box and this example are inscribed with the hallmark Leshan Tang, which is recorded in the Palace archives.