The inspiration for these figures would most likely have been the dark-skinned foreigners, called 'black' by the Chinese whether African, Indian or Persian, who were known to have been in China as early as the 7th Century A.D. By the 17th century Africans were rarely seen in the Qing capital at Beijing, although a large community could be found in Macao where they worked as stevedores on Portuguese carracks and as servants in Jesuit missions, charity hospitals and private households. A similar figure, but dating to the Kangxi period, was in the S. E. Kennedy Collection, illustrated by Gorer and Blacker, Chinese Porcelain and Hardstones, London, 1911, vol. I, pl. 74, and later sold at Christie's, London, 21 June 1916, lot 80; it was again illustrated by G. Reitlinger, The Economics of Taste, London, vol. II, p. 328. Compare the similar figures flanking a clock, exhibited Chinesische Kunst, Berlin, 1929, catalogue no. 1012; and the two blackamoor figures from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. David Rockefeller, sold in these rooms, 23 March 1995, lot 367.