Design Secrets | The Ball & Claw Bathtub
The ball and claw foot is an iconic, statement bathroom design that has endured through centuries of bathroom fashions and fads.
Almost all historical sources confirm that the original ‘claw foot’ is that of a dragon, gripping a ball with it’s talon. This symbol is derived from Chinese mythology, wherein the dragon (symbolising the Emperor) would be guarding the ‘ball’ or ‘pearl’ (symbolising wisdom, purity, eternity) from evil forces that might corrupt or steal it.
The symbol came to the attention of British and other European designers through trade, first appearing on English silver in the early years of the 18th century. English cabinet and table makers are credited with the crucial change in design that saw the claw of the dragon become a bird’s talon or a lion’s paw in order to better represent the English symbolism of power over evil.
From silverware and cabinets, it was then adopted across other furniture, art and textiles, including free standing baths.
The ball and claw motif has remained popular is tastes and fashions since its peak in the mid 18th century. It may have been adopted countless times, but each time that particular ball and that particular claw are unique to their designer. It is the lure of it’s heritage, mixed in with the adaptability of its use in a more contemporary context that we believe gives it unique appeal and staying power.