Sancai Peony Headrest

c. 1900
$1,480 USD
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W: 8.0" D: 7.0" H: 5.0"
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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. Its unusual form is densely patterned with abstract trailing vines, fronds, and blossoms. The headrest is topped with a scene of three delicate peonies, emblems of love and symbols of feminine beauty. Drawing on Tang-dynasty sancai, or three color ware, the Qing-dynasty headrest is coated in green, amber, and cream glazes that flow and mix over its sculptural form. A century of age and use has given the headrest's rich glazed finish a fantastic crazed texture that calls to be touched.

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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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