Female ivory anatomical figure, Europe, undated
Female ivory anatomical figures of this type were popular in the 1600 and 1700s, and were almost always shown as pregnant. In this example the foetus, which is ready to be born, is shown with an umbilical cord made from red thread. The lungs, heart, liver and kidneys are also visible. The lead seal around the neck may have been added by the maker. Such ivory anatomical figures normally came in male and female pairs. The organs are not very detailed so it is unlikely that the model was used for medical teaching. The figure was possibly made to teach young couples about anatomy and pregnancy or it may have been a collector’s item.
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Glossary: anatomical figure
Highly detailed models of the full human figure for artists, teachers and medical practitioners.
The condition of having a developing unborn embryo or foetus in the body. A human pregnancy is usually of 40 weeks gestation.
A branch of medical science concerned with the structure of living organisms.
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.