When looking at the images on this page, you may think there is a mistake with the heading "pillows", but illustrated below are hard Chinese and Japanese pillows, the complete opposite of what we expect in a pillow today. This style of pillow was in use from about the 6th century to the end of the 19th century, although the pillows on this page are from the later period. They were designed to keep the neck and head in vertical alignment with the spine, as with present day pillows, but without the head comfort of the soft pillows we use today. The most common shape was a brick with an inverted top, but other whimsical shapes included a recumbent child lying on his stomachs, where the curved back was the head rest, cats crouching also using the back as the head rest, and mythical animals. Most pillows are porcelain; less common are wood, hardstone, lacquer, and jade.
A Chinese white porcelain Pillow, in the form of a sleeping baby boy Lying on his Stomach, 20th century, the features clearly delineated and clothes picked out. Provenance: The collection of a retired airline executive, length 18 cm
A rare parcel gilt grey stone Pillow, late Tang Dynasty, 10th century, the curved front and sides carved in relief with a peony scroll recessed between continuous classic scroll borders, the straight recessed back with two further recessed cartouche and a
A Chinese rosewood / Huali, reclining armchair chair with a rolled Pillow, late Qing, 19th century, a retractable stool with a shaped apron with fine beading, fitted under the seat, a low back splat with extended horseshoe shaped arms, on square corner leg
A Chinese hardwood day bed with canopy, the solid canopy with fretwork panels on all sides and slender supports to each corner, the base upholstered in canvas, together with the original pillow, 233 x 255 x 128 cm
A pair of Chinese porcelain opium Den Pillows, Qing Dynasty and after, 19th to 20th century, of typical brick form with coin style piercings to one end and open to the reverse, decorated in underglaze blue decoration, the older pillow with sporting lion do
A Cizhou black and green glazed pillow, Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), decorated with two birds amongst foliage, in green on a black ground. From Shanxi province, and probably from the Houma kiln. 14 cm high, 30 cm wide, 20.5 cm deep. Provenance: Capital Gallery
A Chinese figural porcelain Pillow, the pillow in the form of a temple with a slightly concave roof, with lattice fencing and pierced windows and doors and peopled with various devotional figures, with a deep olive green glaze throughout. Height 18 cm. Wid
Antique Chinese porcelain angled pillow, famille rose decoration, 19th century, 6-sided decoration. 8.5 in wide x 6 in high/21 cm wide x 15 cm high. Purcahsed; Lammert Bros, Auctioneers, Hong Kong, 15/1/74
A Chinese ceramic Pillow, mid 20th century, brick shaped with air perforations at either end, iron red overall with two quatrefoil panels, one featuring a woman admiring her pet bird; the other, a contemplative woman on a balcony beneath the shade of a pin
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