The Chinese Puzzle Ball and Other Marvels from Canton (1757-1842)
2019 - 2020
In 1757, because of perceived political or commercial threats from trade with the West, the Qianlong Emperor declared all foreign trade was to be conducted out of a single port in the south China province of Guangdong (Canton). Tea and spices flowed out of the Canton port, as well as hand crafted goods such as silk, porcelain, ivory, lacquerware, and silver goods, which became marvels of the West. The Chinese puzzle ball became a popular good in the Western world, inciting wonder and awe. Chinese puzzle balls are ornate decorative items that consist of several concentric spheres, each of which rotates freely, carved from the same piece of material. These curiosities are on exhibition, along with export porcelains, silver, and other items.
Puzzle Balls, ivory, 1.75 to 4 inches diameter, late 19th century, China. Copyright: Heritage Museum of Asian Art
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Museum of Asian Art
Heritage Museum of Asian Art is a non-profit organization with IRS 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status.