Pairs of lions playing with brocade balls convey the auspicious wish for blessings and joy. Compare two fifteenth century circular boxes and covers of similar design, the first illustrated in Master Works of Chinese Lacquer Ware in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, col. pl. 2; and the other from the British Museum, illustrated by Sir Harry Garner, Chinese Lacquer, London, 1979, no. 40. Another sixteenth century dish of 'lions and brocade ball' design, also from the Lee Family Collection, is included in the present sale, see lot 2099.
The style in which the mythical lions are depicted on the present dish is reminiscent of fifteenth century depictions of the hai shou, 'sea creatures', with their characteristically elongated snouts. Compare an early Ming cinnabar lacquer lobed tray with the 'sea creatures', sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30 May 2012, lot 4013.