100. A Ming Foot-Massager

China, 17th century
Size: 30 cm long
Ivory, steel, gold and wood

If you saw the 1991 film Raise the Red Lantern, you will have seen the heroine played by Gong Li having her feet massaged with an instrument such as this. When I was a boy, my father had a great friend from Japan, Gunji Koizumi, with whom he had opened the first Dojo for martial arts in Europe in the later 1920s. When my father was unwell, Mr. Koizumi would come round, lay my father out on the carpet in the living room, and massage his feet until he was cured of whatever ailed him. When I recounted this strange fact to my school-friends, they all thought I was barmy. Now the efficacity of reflexology is almost universally recognised, and generally thought of as quite normal.