The custom of carrying a baby on either the mother’s, household aid’s, an extended family member, or farm laborers back developed when a mother had to continue to do her house work or farming work without leaving the baby alone. Baby carriers are ideal for busy parents, for babies love to be close to their Mothers. Traditional working mothers had to also attend to their young babies, leading to a new division of labor between men and women.
The carrier or sling in China was known as Mei Tai, and was simply a piece of square or rectangular fabric. The panel is generally the aesthetic and symbolic focus of the whole baby carrier. Baby carriers are customarily embellished with designs and decorations through the use of a broad range of embroidery techniques as represented on this mud figure. Silk, often hand spun, is usually used for the fine embroidery. The foundation materials can be silk, cotton, hemp or flax.
Shown is a wonderful mud figure representing this tradition and shows a commoner going to town to shop. She is not only carrying the baby, but has a nicely fashioned umbrella, to provide shelter, should it rain. The glazes are standard for Shiwan ware, utilizing blue, brown, and yellow ochre. The detailing is quite intricate, showing body features, (baby’s foot is hanging out of the carrier).
Condition: Great condition for its age: one small chip on her collar, but otherwise no missing elements, repairs or crazing. The piece has the impressed seal, “CHINA” on the bottom, indicating this piece was made between 1890-1919. After that time, the mark changed. Dimensions: 2-0”w x 4-3/4””h (5.08cm x 12.0cm).
Additional Information —
Please refer to our Discovery section for historical information on Shiwan Ceramics | Mud Figure and in our Book section, for out- of-print books for sale on the subject.
Excellent Condition- In unused, or like-unused condition. No visual or structural or surface wear or damage shown. Pristine. As good as the day it was made.
Great Condition- Appears in slightly used condition but looks "Like New". Some minor wear, but retains the original craft/workmanship. May show minor wear, that does not affect the main design, or associated motif. No cracks, dents, chips or missing elements.
Good Condition- Minor wear which can be restored or repaired; may have surface flaws, like staining or soiling, confined to a small area. The flaw(s) are counterbalanced by another feature, like brilliant color or innovative design. Some fading or the piece may have been altered in some fashion.
Fair Condition- Main aesthetic/design showing damage. Excessive noticeable wear or damage. Worth buying if can be restored/repaired because of its aesthetic or design appeal or rarity. Note: wear/damage consistent with age/use can often enhance the 'Antique' qualities of a piece, giving it a desirable second chance in one's collection