Mid Northern Song Infant-Shaped Porcelain Pillow
Song Dynasty (960-1279)
Length: 30 cm; Width: 11.8 cm; Height: 18.3 cm
An example of Ding ware ceramics from kilns in Quyang County, Hebei Province.
Of the many necessities in people’s daily life, the simple pillow is close to the heart and head of us all.
Chinese ancient pillows were first made of natural stones and later the materials used extended to wood, jade, bronze, bamboo and porcelain. Surprisingly, among all these pillows, porcelain pillows were most widely used.
Porcelain pillows came into being with the development of porcelain-making crafts first appearing in the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and their mass production began in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Porcelain pillows reached the climax in terms of production and use in the Song, Jin and Yuan dynasties (10th-14th century).
Song Dynasty (960-1279) pillows, such as the iconic reclining child example pictured, feature a great variety and elegant modeling, including the geometrical shape, animals, architectures, human figures and other shapes. They also have colorful decorative patterns, and usually included the patterns of animals, plants, human figures, mountains and waters, and characters, etc. The modeling and decorative patterns on the pillows directly or indirectly reflect the culture, customs, fashions, and pursuits of the social life at that time.
The pillow is shaped like a boy lying prostrate on a couch and the boy’s back is used as the surface of the pillow. The boy folds his arms to support his head; his right hand holds a ball; his feet are raised and crossed with one another; he wears a sleeveless jacket and a gown, whose lower part is printed with a medallion design. The sides of the couch are pressed with patterns and decorated with panels. One side is adorned with a raised hornless dragon; the opposite side is plain; the other two sides are ornamented with tops of ruyi (a distinctive ceremonial sceptre). The glaze color of the body is cream while the bottom is plain and has two holes.
Palace Museum Exhibit, Forbidden City
See more images from China on my Flickr site HERE…..
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