Moulded seated on the ground, with legs apart, knees and arms bent up, wearing a smiling expression, naked apart from a tunic around the stomach painted in underglaze blue the hair styled in two topknots.
There is a group of four similarly modelled boys in the Chinese Lobby at Windsor Castle as part of the Royal Collection (collection number RCIN 58862). They are thought to have been purchased in 1803 for £1.10.0 by George IV, then the Prince of Wales. They are illustrated in John Ayers' volume 'Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 2016, C&J pp.170-180
According to Ayers, a number of similar figures have been recovered from trading ships wrecked in the South China Sea in the early eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is possible that they were being taken to the Chinese communities settled on south-east Asian islands, as auspicious tokens hoped to bring about the birth of a male heir. For example, a figure salvaged from the wreck of the Tek Sing is in the collections of the British Museum (museum number 2000,1211.2).
There is a pair of figures almost identical to ours in the collection of the Victoria and Albert museum, museum number C.28A-1969. According to the V&A, the figures could represent the Daoist Immortal twins, Hehe er Xian.