The size, the geometric motifs on the borders, and the extensive use of pearl shell indicate that this tray was intended for trade to Europe. The main decoration, however, derives from classic Japanese literature, specifically the Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari). Written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu around the year 1000 and often cited as the first psychological novel in world literature, the book traces the tumultuous life and dramatic loves of Genji, a distant member of the royal family who spent much of his life as a commoner. The massive work is divided into fifty-four chapters and contains more than four hundred characters. The scene on the tray illustrates a moment in the sixteenth chapter, when Genji (seated in the carriage and not visible) passes by a former lover while they are both traveling and is assailed by bittersweet memories.