Earthenware Mold of a Swaddled Child
The earthenware mold for casting a figurine of an infant was found in Tangyangu China, and is likely dated to between 960 and 1279 CE, during the Song dynasty. The mold measures 3.2 inches long, and belongs to a collection of molds depicting men, women, and animals. The molds were likely used to make tomb figurines that were placed with the dead for burial, a ritual practice that was becoming less widespread by the Song dynasty. The mold for an infant figurine shows the widespread practice of swaddling, or tightly binding newborn infants with strips of cloth. In cultures from western to eastern Asia, it was believed that the practice was necessary, and helped form the child's body by preventing too much movement. The practice of swaddling has been abandoned in modern times, but a recent pediatric article noted that it may help newborns to sleep, calm their heartbeat, and prevent sudden infant death.
(c) The Trustees of the British Museum, London, Object AN273723001, acquisition date 1933 (accessed March 9, 2009). Annotated by Susan Douglass.