One of a set of four large figures of soft-paste porcelain representing the "Four Quarters of the Globe," each depicted as a chubby child dressed in a costume deemed appropriate to his or her region and associated with symbols of the different continents. 

Africa: the figure of a male child with black skin wearing a green and purple wrap, a bright red coral necklace and an elephant headdress, over his right shoulder is a cornucopia filled with sheaves of wheat, which he supports on his left hip, his right hand grasps a scorpion, symbolic of the mystery and danger of this little known continent, at his feet is a snarling lion, the base decorated with flowers.

Africa, from the Set of Figures “Four Quarters of the Globe”

Derby Porcelain Manufactory, William Duesbury & Co.

1765/75

This figure represents one of the four continents known to man during the late eighteenth century. Each is dressed in accordance with established notions about the traditional garb of the people of his or her continent and is surrounded by objects or animals indigenous to the region.


Europe, the queen of all continents, wears a crown. North and South America were considered one continent during the eighteenth century, and were usually personified by a Native American, always depicted with red skin. The exotic continent of Asia is shown wearing expensive silks and holding spices and perfumes. Africa holds a cornucopia filled to the brim with sheaves of wheat—a reference to the land of plenty—as well as a scorpion, symbol of mystery and danger.