This red lacquer box is the work of Zhang Cheng (1271 - 1368). The slightly rounded cover is carved with two herons in flight above a bed of hibiscus on a buff background, while the straight sides are decorated with bands of flowers of the four seasons. A layer of black lacquer is inserted in between the red, and two parallel grooves are carved on the outside of the foot ring. The base is lacquered in black. Distinguished by its fine craftsmanship and attractive decorative design, the box features an incised mark of Zhang Cheng on the left side and also a red Phags-pa inscription reading "Yangji", painted at the centre of the base and on the inside of the lid.
The resinous sap of the lacquer tree rhus verniciflua has been used by the Chinese as a protective and watertight covering for wood and other vessels since the Neolithic period. It was during the Yuan and early Ming that the most accomplished carved lacquers were produced, and among these the wares produced by Zhang Cheng and Yang Mao of Jiaxing in Zhejiang province are renowned for their excellent craftsmanship and lustrous finish.