Ivory cane handle

Ivory cane handle

China, 18th or 19th century

Height: 4 inches, 10.2 cm

Ivory cane handle

An ivory cane handle carved in the form of a scantily clad, kneeling woman. Her breasts are exposed and she raises her left arm above her head, grasping the cloth that partly covers her extravagant hairdo. Her lower body is covered in a patterened cloth that she grasps with her right hand, holds between her knees and that covers her feet. The face is well detailed with slanted eyes and long, pendant earrings. The ivory has acquired a mellow patina.

 

This beautifully detailed cane handle in the form of a scantily clad woman shows definite signs of use in the mellow patina it has acquired over time. The cane handle has strong parallels with the so-called ‘doctor’s ladies’ that were once thought to be a medical aid, helping a Chinese doctor to locate the source of pain in his female patients, since he would not be allowed to touch their bodies, but have in recent times come to be regarded more as erotic toys. The present cane handle also has signs of being an erotic toy.