These bookends show a lady, probably Chinese, being transported in an open sedan chair. A variety of bookends from China were exported to the United States during the nineteen twenties and thirties, and some of these were pictured in Bookend Revue, (Schiffer, 1996). These are the first bookends we have ever seen which featured a sedan chair or any other scene from modern China. The bookends are further unique in that they are carved as mirror images, and the figures on each bookend match the figures on the other in very careful detail.
Sedan chairs have been used for hundreds of years in Europe and Asia. Most of them were enclosed boxes that contained chairs within, in order to protect the riders, who were usually wealthy and sometimes aristocratic. The open chair suggests that the lady passenger had somewhat lower status.