The rectangular box has been made in Sri Lanka, probably on the Galle district on the southern coast, from exquisitely grained calamander wood.
The form of this box is early 19th century. The carving on all sides and on the hinged lid is particularly exquisite and reminiscent of the interlocking scrolling foliate vine work seen on 19th century Sri Lankan silverwork.
There is a lock, but no longer a key.
Such boxes often were for the export market and were used by genteel European ladies as hobbyist work boxes to hold sewing equipment, or as jewellery boxes.
The example here is in excellent condition other than for an old, light, shrinkage-related crack to the lid, but this is scarcely visible amongst the profusion of carving.
Coomaraswamy, A.K., Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, Pantheon Books, 1956 reprint of the 1908 edition.
Jaffer, A., Furniture from British India and Ceylon: A Catalogue of the Collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum, Timeless Books, 2001.