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Puzzle Ball

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Puzzle Ball

Date: 1900-1920
Medium: Carved ivory
Dimensions:
Overall: 2 1/2in. (6.4cm)
Credit Line: Proctor Collection
Object number: PC. 742.14
Label Text
Intricately carved ivory mystery balls (also called Chinese puzzle balls) have been carved since ancient times. The balls consist of concentrically carved spheres that vary in size and number. Each sphere contains a windowed pattern, revealing the complexity of the inner spheres. The process of making a mystery ball is quite complex and begins with turning a solid ball on a lathe. The ball is then drilled into and reworked with numerous hand-tools. The two strongest, outermost balls are often fused together to prevent the more fragile inner balls from breaking. The example depicted has nine concentric spheres.