China, 19th century, Qing dynasty
Wrist rest carved with “100 Children at Play”
Ivory, 27 x 6
Bequest of Rachel Linton, Haifa
“One Hundred Children at Play” is a visual representation of the blessing of many male offspring, considered necessary for the continuation of the family line in China. It is thought to refer to the family of King Wu, an early Chinese patriarch who had a hundred sons. This highly popular, auspicious subject was depicted in a wide range of media: painting, porcelain, embroidery, and carving.
The back of this ivory wrist rest, used for support while writing, was intricately carved with boys in various poses, some playing children’s games, others imitating the activities of adult daily life.