As early as the first quarter of the 18th century unfired clay figures were made for the export trade. The earliest tended to be specific portrait pieces, such as the figure of a merchant by Amoy Chinqua in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. C. Crossman, The China Trade, pp. 307 - 321 illustrates this and other figures and discusses the genre, noting that most were made in the period 1780 to 1810, in two sizes, about 10 - 12 inches high and then the monumental size of the present pair. The most impressive pair in the Peabody, Crossman writes, are a mandarin and his wife seated on rockwork bases. A pair of standing nodding head figures, 15 7/8 in. high, were sold Christie's, New York, 24 January 1997, lot 1.