Red Lacquer Hide Pillow

c. 1850
$2,280 USD SOLD
W: 14.5" D: 4.0" H: 10.5"
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Dated to the mid-19th century, this extraordinary Chinese headrest was hand-crafted of lacquered hide and painted with delicate floral motifs. Used while sleeping like a modern pillow, the headrest has a pliable design that enabled contour comfort - quite luxurious for the time. The front is painted with a crane beneath delicate plum blossoms, symbols of winter and longevity. This motif conveys the wish for a loving wife and son, a reference to the Song-dynasty poet Lin Hejing. The opposite side is painted with a pheasant beneath peony blossoms, symbols of love, beauty, and summertime. Elevated by a custom steel mount, the rare headrest becomes a storied work of sculpture.

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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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