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Ivory female anatomical figure, Europe, undated

Female ivory anatomical models of this type were popular in the 1600s and 1700s, and were almost always shown as pregnant. In this example the foetus is shown in the uterus, ready to be born. It is connected to the mother by an umbilical cord made from red thread. Carved from ivory, representations of the heart, lungs and liver can also be seen. These anatomical figures normally came in male and female pairs. The organs are not very detailed so it is unlikely that the model was made for medical teaching. The figure was possibly used to teach young couples about anatomy and pregnancy or it may have been a collector’s item.

Object number:

A642634

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Glossary:

Glossary: anatomical figure

Highly detailed models of the full human figure for artists, teachers and medical practitioners.

Glossary: pregnancy

The condition of having a developing unborn embryo or foetus in the body. A human pregnancy is usually of 40 weeks gestation.

Glossary: anatomy

A branch of medical science concerned with the structure of living organisms.

Glossary: uterus

The hollow reproductive organ in female mammals. The uterus is where the foetus develops after conception. The word 'womb' is often used among non-medical people to refer to the same area.

Glossary: foetus

The name given to the embryo during the later stages of development. In human reproduction it refers to an unborn child from its eighth week of development.