Double Guardian Headrest

c. 1900
$1,110 $1,480 USD
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W: 10.0" D: 5.25" H: 5.5"
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To keep her elaborate hairstyle intact while sleeping, a well-to-do Qing-dynasty woman once used this ceramic headrest as a pillow. Painted in the style of Ming-dynasty cizhou ware, this ceramic headrest was painted with gestural brushstrokes of warm browns atop a creamy-white slip base. The headrest is supported by two crouching mythical guardians, with fearsome expressions meant to protect the sleeping owner from evil spirits. In the center is the image of a tiger, known as the "king of the wild beasts" in Chinese folklore, and an emblem of courage, dignity, and ferocity. Painted atop the headrest is the calming scene of a scholar fishing in a meditation garden - intended to encourage peaceful dreams while the guardians below protect from nightmares.

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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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