Blue and White Fu Lion Headrest

Mid-20th Century
$280 USD
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Dimensions
W: 5.5" D: 2.5" H: 4.75"
Materials
Porcelain
Purchase Quantity
Collection #
CESB029J
Estimated Shipping
$20

This small ceramic block is actually a form of Chinese headrest or neck pillow. Popular during the Qing dynasty, rigid headrests such as this were used by upper-class women to protect their elaborate hairstyles by elevating the head during slumber. This example dates to the mid-20th century and is glazed in the blue-and-white style with dark, cobalt-blue color.

Each side of the headrest has a quadrilobe cartouche framing two mythical fu lions playing with a brocade ball, a motif that evokes the idiom "may you and your descendant achieve high rank." A powerful and benevolent guardian, the fu lion (shizi) is the perfect force to protect against nightmares and bad energy. The playful scene is surrounded by a cracked ice pattern dotted with plum blossoms, symbols of winter and longevity. A geometric meander trims the corners and small bats frame coin-shaped ventilation cutouts, symbolizing wealth and happiness.

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Headrests

Headrests and neck pillows have been used since ancient times to keep the head elevated while sleeping and hold the body in a comfortable position. Whether functional or purely decorative, such headrests were crafted from a variety of materials and were often decorated with elaborate patterns or symbolic motifs.

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