Period: Song dynasty (960-1279)
Measurements: L.24.7 cm, W. 17 cm, H.9.7 cm
Provenance: Acquired upon Government Notice
Of an oval form, with lower front part and higher back part, slightly concave in the middle. It was covered overall by white glaze except for the bottom, which bears an impressed inscription of three characters “Zhang Jia Zao (lit. Made by Family Zhang)” in regular script. The side walls were painted with black foliage patterns.
Ceramic pillows were initially fired in Sui dynasty, and boomed in Tang and Song times. “The ceramic pillows of Tang dynasty were small in size, and examples of Song dynasty were large, those from Jin, (Southern Song), Yuan dynasties were diverse”. At the beginning, the ceramic pillows were made as burial goods for funeral proposes, later they evolved into the daily sleeping tools or arm-resting pad for pulse diagnosis in traditional Chinese medics. In the development of the ceramic pillows, examples from the Cizhou kilns in the North China during the Song dynasty were the most typical.
Cizhou kilns were launched during the middle Northern Song period, and quickly thrived followed by reaching the zenith, later they continued for some time. The products from Cizhou kilns were characterized by thick body and glaze with simple but robust styles, exhibiting a strong flavour of the populace’s life. The decor of black pattern against the white ground was a synthetic art, it was worked by combining the ceramic-making crafts and traditional calligraphy and painting to paint figures, landscape, birds, flowers, auspicious patterns, and words on the frontal part of the pillow. The present example features smooth lines of the patterns, keen contrast of the colors, the decors gained popularity among the ordinary people at the time, hence it was deemed to be a typical piece from the Cizhou kiln.