A Chinese export carved ivory hanging puzzle ball, probably Canton, circa 1860
3,000 - 5,000 GBP
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- A Chinese export carved ivory hanging puzzle ball, probably Canton, circa 1860
- Ivory, Glass, Wood
- the dome 83.1cm., 32 3/4 in. high; the puzzle ball 12.1cm., 4 3/4 in. wide
the ball itself of approximately sixteen layers, the outer skin profusely carved with Chinese figures, pagodas and sampans in scenes of daily life, the inner layers pierced with various geometric designs, suspended from a carving of three figures in a gaming scene among climbing blossom trees, the hook terminal attached to a further stylised dolphin drop, hanging under a glass dome with ebonised wood stand
Puzzle balls are carved by turning a solid ball on a lathe. Holes are drilled towards the centre and special L-shaped sharp tools are used to cut free the innermost balls.The tools are of different lengths and the one with the longest upright has the shortest cutter, and vice versa. The work starts with the longest tool being lowered to the narrow bottom of each hole and rotated to cut the innermost ball free. The work progresses from the inside out. The two outermost balls are fused together to form a thicker layer so as to prevent breakage when the elaborate carvings of the final layer are made.