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Cizhou Ware Pillow in the Form of a Tiger

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
Ceramic pillows were initially developed during the Sui dynasty (581–618 C.E.) and remained popular from the seventh to fourteenth century. Tigers were thought to exorcise evil, based on their association with the Daoist celestial Master Zhang, who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220 C.E.). Images of Master Zhang riding his tiger were popular in Chinese folklore and were thought to protect a home from evil spirits and drive away demons of illness. The delicately painted bird on a bamboo branch is inspired by a popular form of fan painting at the imperial court in the Jin dynasty. This pillow has a rare inscription on the bottom: “purchased for 31 wen on the thirteenth day of the first month of the ren ying year,” a date probably corresponding to 1182.
MEDIUM Cizhou ware, earthenware, painted slip decoration with transparent glaze
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 1182
    DYNASTY Jin Dynasty
    PERIOD Jin Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS 4 3/8 x 6 3/4 x 14 1/2 in. (11.1 x 17.1 x 36.8 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Asian Art Council
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A ceramic pillow takes shape of a crouching tiger; the oval panel on the tiger's back is painted with a bird perched on a branch of bamboo in dark brown. The pillow is assembled with a hollow construction, its molded form covered with a white slip. An orange brown slip is applied to the body, excluding the back, ears and eyes which remain white; black brushstrokes create the tiger’s stripes and features and the bamboo branch and bird. The pillow is then coated with a transparent glaze and fired at a high temperature. The foot is unglazed. This is a Northern Cizhou ware, made from gray stoneware and white slip applied to refine the surface. Used in summertime, this pillow for sleeping takes the form of a tiger because, according to Chinese lore, the tiger frightens away malevolent spirits. The piece is inscribed on the base: "purchased for 31 wen on the thirteenth day of the first month of ren ying:. The second character of the cyclical date on the base is slightly obscured, but appears to read a date corresponding to the Jin era, possibly 1182 or slightly earlier. (From Accession Card)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    CAPTION Cizhou Ware Pillow in the Form of a Tiger, 1182. Cizhou ware, earthenware, painted slip decoration with transparent glaze, 4 3/8 x 6 3/4 x 14 1/2 in. (11.1 x 17.1 x 36.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Asian Art Council, 1993.56. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1993.56_overall_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1993.56_overall_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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