A Rare & Unusual Early 20thC Cased Doctor's Anatomical Model of a Human Skeleton


Origin: Chinese
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1910-20
The Case:
Diameter: 6 inches
Height: 18.75 inches

For medical use and in original condition, within a glazed case having bulbs above and below for illumination, the highly detailed resin skeleton model suspended from a rod on a circular base banded in silk and weave.

The glazed case is of a good weight and there are no chips or cracks, the Chinese Ming style coin to the top representing an important part of Chinese history, used since the Qin dynasty. The skeleton, with its fantastic patina, and attached rod with wiring show no signs of repair and the base is in generally good order.

Traditional Chinese Medicine’s view of the human body is only marginally concerned with anatomical structures, but focuses primarily on the body's functions such as digestion, breathing, temperature and maintenance. However, anatomical Chinese dolls are still among the many interesting artifacts found in medical history collections, the earlier figurines usually made of ivory or alabaster.

This example is later, using the advantage of electricity to illuminate it, and is more unusual than most, but the idea of anatomical models in the doctors study and in the households of the higher classes in China was common practice for a time.

Strict Chinese custom forbade a woman of a certain station to undress in the doctor's presence, or to all him to examine her body, thus models such as this were used to point out to the doctor the site of the problem. This practice continued until China became a republic in the twentieth century when, under the influence of the American-educated Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the practice was banned. This example was made on the cusp of this change and thus demonstrates a more modern approach; the example is cased and has lights illuminating it., and the bone structure is detailed and realistic; evidently making it more of a study than merely a doll or prop.

Very rarely appearing for sale this is a hugely collectable and authentic piece of medical history, that doubles as an unparalleled decorative or filmic effect; wonderfully demonstrating the nuances of the human skeletal system.