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Cizhou Ware Pillow in the Form of a Tiger

Asian Art

The famous kilns at Cizhou in northern China, as well as other northern kilns, produced a wide variety of attractive, popular wares. This delightful summer Pillow (or headrest) is hollow, and the molded form is covered with a layer of white slip or colored clay. Brushstrokes of black and orange define the stripes and features of this sweetly ferocious tiger. According to Chinese folklore, the tiger frightens away malevolent spirits and ensures the birth of male children. The painting of a bird on a branch imitates in popular form the fan paintings of the imperial court. On the bottom of the Pillow is an inscription reading "purchased for 31 wen on the 13th day of the first month of the ren ying year," a date that probably corresponds to 1182.

MEDIUM Cizhou ware, earthenware, painted slip decoration with transparent glaze
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 1182
    DYNASTY 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)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Asian Art Council
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    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
    IMAGE overall, 1993.56_overall_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    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)
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