Ivory diagnostic figure, China, 1801-1900
Not much is known about ivory figures showing women reclining on wooden couches with padded silk cushions. Historians believed that the figures were used by women when consulting their doctors to point out where their body hurt or was ill, perhaps to prevent embarrassment and any touching that would have been inappropriate. However, this has now been dismissed as a myth.
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Glossary: diagnostic figure
A carved figure used by women to indicate their symptoms in an age when it was considered improper for a male doctor to examine female patients.