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.

Asia: the figure of a female child wrapped in loose-fitting silks trimmed with gold and wearing a jeweled bodice, her headdress is decorated with exotic fruits and flowers, in her right hand she holds a gilt censor or incense burner, her left hand clutches a small bouquet of precious spices, at her feet lies a recumbent camel with upturned head on a green grassy ground decorated with flowers.

Asia, 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.