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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who's That Lady?

Believe it or not, this lovely figure of a woman is actually a medical instrument! It’s known as a “doctor’s lady”.

 They originated in China from as early as the Ming Dynasty (1300’s) and were still used up until 100 years ago.


They are small carvings depicting a nude female in a recumbent position, supporting her head on her right arm, with her left arm resting demurely on her body.


Traditionally, Chinese male physicians used them so a female patient could indicate the location of her discomfort in a modest fashion. This eliminated the shame of having to show or point to her own body, which was strictly taboo.


The figures were made from various materials such as ivory, resin, semiprecious stone, or soapstone.

They are typically 4 to 10 inches long, often with a base in the form of a couch.

 

Back then, they would have likely used a pointing stick carved as a hand with the index finger extended to point to various areas of the body. That way the doctor wouldn’t even have physical contact with the figure, taking the level of modesty one degree further. Sadly, those pointers are even harder to find than the figures!

 

Although these “doctor’s ladies” are highly prized and collected among physicians, I find them to be beautiful as well as fascinating too. They show just how we’ve come as women. I'm always keeping a look out and hope to find a few more someday.

Hugs,

Patti  

And thank you all for participating in our "What's It Wednesday" party!

Don't forget to grab a feature button.
Ivy and Elephants 

Here are this week's features:




73 comments:

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

What an interesting story!
Being a nurse and working in a hospital setting, I can only imagine Physicians using this today!! LOL!!
Thanks for hosting such a great party every week!

Hugs,
Debbie

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

How very interesting! Thanks so much for sharing..
Blessings,
Penny

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

So interesting. I didn't know about them. You always have the most interesting things. Thanks for hosting. Hugs, Marty

Cottage and Broome said...

I can honesty say I have never heard of lady doctors. They are beautiful carvings and I can see why you would want to collect them. Thanks for hosting, Laura

FABBY'S LIVING said...

What an interesting story, I learned something as I always do here, from you lovely ladies. Ok, I'm totally in love with the figurine, I just adore oriental everything, I should send you my address just in case you don't want her anymore!!!! Gorgeous piece. Thanks for having me once more. Hugs,
FABBY

Babs said...

You have the most interesting collections and I always enjoy the history behind the pieces. These are so lovely that it's difficult to think of them as medical tools.
Thanks for hosting.
Babs

Scribbler said...

My husband was reading over my shoulder, and we enjoyed this post. I don't think I have ever seen any of these figures, although I have heard of them. Thanks for hosting.

NanaDiana said...

You know, I have heard of these but never seen one before. Amazing how far we have come, isn't it? Great post-xo Diana

Carlene @ Organized Clutter said...

Now, that is an unusual collection!

Pat@BPM said...

What a wonderful and interesting collection.

I have something this week. Hope I can continue to participate.

Thanks so much for hosting!

Lauren @ My Wonderfully Made said...

Well I thought I had heard it all! That is quite interesting AND amusing -- thank you for wowing us once again with something from your collections!

Julie Marie said...

Oh my gosh Patti, those little ladies are incredible!... I have never, ever heard of those and I probably will never see one in person although I would love to! I love hearing the story behind them too... in a world gone crazy these days, a little modesty would not hurt anyone... love to you, hello to Paula!... xoxo Julie Marie

Nancy @ The Headmistress said...

WOW! What a fabulous history lesson! This is a new one for me. Thank you so much for this enlightening post!
Nancy

SwedishCorner-DownUnder...Pernilla said...

Interesting story!
... beautiful collection :)

Greetings from Australia♥
~Pernilla

It's All Connected said...

Fascinating! I've never seen one of those ladies. Thanks for the lesson! ~ Maureen

Kathe said...

I love what I learn here! What a beautiful piece. Thank you for hosting each week.

Sherry said...

How cool is that! What a neat collectible. Thanks for hosting!
Sherry

Mary Ellen said...

I had not heard about these unique Physicians tools! Very interesting- you really have some great tidbits of history to share! Thanks!

And Thanks for featuring my plaster repair post this week! So fun seeing it at your blog when I went to sign up for this week's party!!

bee blessed
mary

Poppy said...

Thanks for sharing such an interesting collectible with us and the story behind it. You always have the most fascinating stories to tell us:) Thanks for the party!Hugs,Poppy

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

First of all, thank you so much for featuring me this week along with so many talented people...I am truly honored....

I must say that I have never heard of those physician's "ladies"...they are beautiful and so exquisitely made..I can see that they are well sought after...I love learning each week of a remarkable item that you collect...I feel as if I am reading a page from an antique resource guide each week...I love it!...

Debra @ Common Ground said...

these ladies are just gorgeous. I've never seen these before, what an interesting concept, I think I may have been to one of those doctors myself. just linked up, thanks so much for hosting!

Little Miss Maggie said...

Thanks for hosting the party. Your post was fascinating today.

Grandma Barb's This and That said...

Very interesting, Patti. I've never seen or heard of the "Doctor's Lady. They are really beautiful.

Elena said...

I had never heard of those before. Totally fascinating!

I also wanted to thank you for the feature!! I'm off to display my new button ;)

Elena
`a casarella

Antiques And Teacups said...

What a great collectible! You don't see many of those! Thanks for sharing your treasure!
Ruth

Shingle Cottage said...

I loved reading this post,so interesting,wow makes you think how things have changed and some not for the better.
Have a beautiful day x

Nann from At Nann's Table said...

I had heard and seen these Dr.s ladies I think on the Antique Roadshow. The one you are showing is just beautiful. The whole story is so fascinating. Thanks for sharing and for another great linky party.

Nann

lauren @ West Furniture Revival said...

i actually knew what this was, i saw it on an episode of american pickers, they found one made of ivory and it was worth some money, good find1

Angie said...

Fascinating!!! Thanks so much for sharing about them and hosting the party again this week!

Blessings,
Angie @ Knick of Time

Sanghamitra Bhattacherjee(Mukherjee) said...

How very interesting! Thanks for sharing. Here I'm adding a link based on Oriental decor too:)
Thanks again for hosting the party.
Hope to see you on my blog:)

Jody and Stan said...

You are always teaching me something new about collectibles. These are so unique and beautiful. Thanks for hosting a great party.


Jody

jeanetteann said...

Isn't she beautiful. I especially like the way you have displayed her. I can see why you want more. xx

Rhissanna said...

I's heard about these, but never actually seen one. How gorgeous she is!

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

these are pretty amazing.....Thank you for sharing this as I have never heard or don't think I've ever seen them unless I didn't know what I was looking at. I will sure keep a look out now. Fascinating.... and thank you for hosting WIW xo

www.MaisonStGermain.com said...

Wow, that is so interesting. I love stopping by your blog because I learn so much. Thank you for sharing your love and knowledge of antiques with us:)
~Debra xxx
Capers of the vintage vixens

Gail said...

WOW, this post was so interesting! I have never heard nor seen anything like that! Thanks for sharing and hope you have a wonderful day, Gail

Tracey@Breathing English Air said...

Fascinating. I'd never heard of these before. You always write such interesting posts, thank you for sharing.

Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne said...

So interesting! I've never heard of them before.

Thanks so much for featuring my project! and thank you also for hosting. Have a fabulous week, xox

Shenita @ Embellishments by SLR said...

What a fascinating history lesson! This is the first time that I have heard of her! You always have the most interesting pieces! Thanks for hosting this great party. Glad to link up!

Barbara said...

I have never heard of the "doctor's lady" in all the years I have been in healthcare but of coarse it makes perfect sense. Now I will have to be on the lookout for them too! And thank you so much for featuring my buffalo style mushrooms! I bought more of the ingredients to make them again just yesterday! I am now totally convinced that you ladies must at some point come visit me so I can cook for you!

Thanks for hosting and have a great week!!!

Dee@FrenchBleuVintage said...

What a great collection. Such an amazing history ~ who'd of thought......
Thanks again for hosting a fun party ~ Dee

Tina said...

Those are lovely. I have never heard of them before. Thank you for posting about them.

Thank you for hosting. Have a great week.

Curtains in My Tree said...

Your blog is not only beautiful but I get a weekly history lesson over here each week . I love the naked Chinese lady instrument.
Chinese history has so much to tell us

just a beautiful story and now if I ever see one I will know what I am looking at

I was wondering where you found yours?

Janice

La Vie Quotidienne said...

She's georgous...saw one on the Antique Road Show a while back...yours is even nicer.

Diann said...

You girls always have the most interesting things to share! thank you for hosting and have a wonderful day!

Johanna said...

Hi Patti,
those figurines are so charming. And so well shaped! Would be much nicer to use them at the doctor than to show myself. LOL
Thank you for sharing this wonderful and very interesting figurines. I hope you will find some more for the collection.
best greetings, Johanna

Tammy Partin Spangler said...

Thank you so much for sharing! My daughter and I learned something new today! Blessings, Tammy

Vintage Home said...

Those ladies are stunning!

Vintage Home said...

thanks for dropping by my bog...and for your sweet comment!

Burlap Luxe said...

Patti,
I can see why you opt to collect them, they really are amazing. Knowing what they were meat for in medical use makes them that much more intriguing to collect, you inspired me to want to try and find one of my own, and the pointer of course.

Thank you sweet dear sister friend for your beautifullness gracing my place and leaving such a comment as you did, its always encouraging when a comment comes in from you, you who collect one or more of everything, knowing your art so well.

Thank you.
Blessings to you and yours.
xoxo
Dore

Gustaviana said...

What a wonderful and interesting collection.
those little ladies are incredible hihihi it gives you a big smile hahahahaha... big hug viana

ps I am sorry that i dont write a lot but it is very busy.... but i am wathing you girls..... xxx

toko baju online said...

Thank you for posting this. It’s exactly what I was looking for!

Grammy Goodwill said...

Once again, I have never seen or heard of anything like this lady. Your posts are always so interesting and informative.

Linda said...

That is a great piece of history. How unique to have something like this. It's also clever. Thanks for sharing and hosting.

Designs By Pinky said...

How interesting, Patti. I have never seen anything like these. Thanks so much for sharing yours and the information! Thanks for hosting this wonderful party too. XO, Pinky

Misti@Living On Cypress Hill said...

I love the story! And thanks for the feature this week! :)

Faye ~ Wild Rose Vintage ~ Cabin Creek said...

Very interesting post! There is always something to learn on your blog. Thank you!
Faye

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

I have never, ever seen anything like this! Patti, you are truly a collector of fine antiques! AND MY DEAR, how lovely to see your comment last night! I hope you are well and HAPPY after all that testing! We are done with our MCA reading assessments, but the math is coming down the pike in two weeks. Then, more of the excitement will build as the kids experience more sunshine and energy and we teachers just figure that there is just nothing we can do but go with the flow!!!!! I had a wonderful break and thank you for asking! How long have you been teaching? My colleagues are giving me a going an AU REVOIR party on May 11 and though I am happy about my decision to leave, I think I will need a box of kleenex at the party; GOOD BYES are hard for me!

PEACE AND BEAUTY TO YOU MY FRIEND! Anita

Richard Cottrell said...

Lady or Vamp? Richard from My Old Historic House.

Arani @ Add that Xtra in the Ordinary said...

Reading through this piece of information,I realize there is yet so much to learn and know,its so very fascinating.I'm getting hooked on to your lovely blog.
Thanks for your sweet words of encouragement in my last post and for hosting the party.I am linking up here today with my "Sketches in B/W."

Palomasea said...

Dear Patti, you are the one who introduced this fascinating piece to me many posts ago...it is so beautiful.
Thank so much for stopping by, and creating really feeds the soul, doesn't it?
Have a splendid weekend, sweet friend..
xoxo,
- Irina

Joy@aVintageGreen said...

Every time I visit your blog I learn something new. Doctor's Ladies - beautiful and thank you for the history as well. Thanks for hosting.

Donata @ DK's Craft Cafe said...

Thank you so much for the party and for introducing something I have never seen before.
That is what I like about real collectors -you don't just show off, you educate people.
Thanks again and have a lovely day!

Melody said...

Oh for pete sake. Our old family Doc had one of those in his office...he collected antiques. Never knew it was that.

Lacquerandlace said...

Loved this, thank you for sharing!

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Hi Patti: I'm following you now. Beautiful blog and those Dr.'s womens are amazing. I had never heard that story before. How many are you fortunate enough to have? I am excited to read more of your posts..Happy Weekend..Judy.. Thank you so much for your nice comments to me.

Barbara said...

LOL...like I said before you need to come to N.J. so I can totally cook for you! Thank you Patti for your recent comment on the bacon and egg cupcake I posted on 21 Rosemary Lane! Love you gals...you are the absolute best!! Thanks again for the feature this week...such a special honor!

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Hi Patti
What a treat to have you visit... I always enjoy seeing you there..
Thank you so much for your encouraging words about Coco.. So happy you enjoyed viewing.
Blessings,
Penny

Trenton, NJ Antiques said...

That is so interesting! I never knew that.

Elyse said...

Incredibly interesting! Thanks for sharing.

Jody and Stan said...

Thank you for your inspiring comment on Rooted in Thyme. I loved it!

Jody

Nezzy said...

Oh Miss Patti, ya always have the most beautiful things and the most interestin' stories to go with 'em.

What a lovely piece that is...I do so hope ya run across a pointer to go with it. We've come a long way baby!!!

God bless ya and have a beautiful day sweetie!!!

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Gratitude is the Memory of the Heart ~ French Proverb ~ We are so grateful that you stopped by ~ Please visit again soon! ~ Much Love, Patricia and Paula