The lid of this tall box depicts an outdoor scene with figures in terraced pavilions and on the veranda. The sides of the top and bottom display scholars and attendants in landscape settings and shaped floral panels against a star-diaper ground.
Most landscape and floral decoration on Yuan dynasty (1280-1368) mother-of-pearl lacquer is based on contemporary paintings or pattern books. It represents a new pictorial direction in lacquer decoration that remained popular into the nineteenth century. The mother-of-pearl inlay is extremely thin and the thousands of pieces of mollusk shells used in the work were carefully selected for their color and iridescence.