Enquiry about object: 6814

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    Chinese Silver Tongue Scraper with Goldfish Motifs

    19th century

    length: 10.3cm, width: 4.1cm, weight: 6g



    UK art market

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This intricate Chinese implement of solid silver is tongue scraper, used to remove the white coating from the tongue after a meal. It is the most complex example we have seen. The stem or handle is of pierced silver and includes a fine twisted silver wire section.

    The plate of the scraper itself is pierced and decorated with flower motifs and a pair of fat carp or goldfish over a small, pierced, Chinese ‘cash’ symbol. Goldfish are auspicious for their associations with gold and thus wealth. And two fish swimming together are a metaphor for sexual harmony and marital happiness – all on a tongue scraper!

    The top of the handle has a fine silver loop to permit the scraper’s suspension from a set of other grooming tools.

    The item is in fine condition. There are no maker’s marks. The loop will allow the scraper to be worn as a pendant.


    Nikles van Osselt, E., Five Blessings: Coded Messages in Chinese Art, Foundation Baur/5 Continents, 2011.

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