In the commodity culture of eighteenth-century England, miniature dogs and porcelain shared the classification of imported "toys" and "curios." The pug and the King Charles spaniel were both East Asian breeds of dog brought to England and domesticated, becoming favoured symbols of national culture; they were then rendered into porcelain miniatures that were regularly commissioned and reproduced in China and sent back to England. Techniques of miniaturization in the plastic as well as the biological arts were developed in tandem, and the interrelated identities of these "Oriental" animals and objects reveal the miniature to be a cross-cultural phenomenon tied to new technologies of modelling life. Dog breeding, as porcelain sculpture, was an exercise in importing, shaping, and innovating the commodity form. The toy dog, a small but far from trivial commodity, mediated relations of racial, sexual, and species difference and helped establish a luxury market for the pet as a racialized fetish object that continues to this day.

Contributor's Note

Chi-ming Yang is associate professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of research include eighteenth-century literature and culture, colonial and postcolonial studies, and the global China trade of the early modern period. She is the author of the book Performing China: Virtue, Commerce, and Orientalism in Eighteenth-Century England, 1660-1760 (2011).

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Fig. 1 Shock Dog

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Fig. 2 Comforter Dog

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Fig. 3 Seated Pugs

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Fig. 4 Meissen Pugs

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Fig. 5 Hogarth & Pug

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Fig. 6 Hogarth's Pug "Trump"