A CHINESE IVORY CARVING OF A DOCTORS LADY
R7 000 – R10 000
NOT SUITABLE FOR EXPORT
carved as a nudewoman lying in recumbent position supporting her head with her left arm, her right arm resting demurely on her body, wearing bangles, earrings and embellished necklace, her black hair tied back in a knot, her face with delicate features, repair to foot
In traditional Chinese society, particularly among the upper classes, the separation of the sexes was strictly enforced, these prohibitions applied even to medical doctors who could not directly examine a female patient. Although the doctor might be granted permission to enter the woman’s quarters, it was unthinkable that the woman would expose any part of her body below her collar, above her wrists or her ankles. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the diagnostic figurine, or Doctors Lady, was developed to aid physicians.
Ordinarily depicted as completely naked except for her shoes, the ‘’lady’’ reclines on her side or back, her upper leg crossed over her lower one, one arm supporting her head and the other casually draped across her chest. Created from a variety of different materials such as amber, resin, ivory, soapstone or gemstones – These figures catered to a range of social classes.
The Physician would carry such a doll with him on his visits, and pass it through the curtains to the patient, who would mark the afflicted part with charcoal or India ink. A wealthy lady might have her own figurine, which she would send to the doctor, and thereby completely avoid the embarrassment of a physical examination.