24 août 2019

An outstanding 'Yaozhou' carved and dated pillow, Jin dynasty, Dated to the Fifth Year of the Cheng An Reign, 1200 AD

An outstanding 'Yaozhou' carved and dated pillow, Jin dynasty, Dated to the Fifth Year of the Cheng An Reign (Corresponding to 1200 A

An outstanding 'Yaozhou' carved and dated pillow, Jin dynasty, Dated to the Fifth Year of the Cheng An Reign (Corresponding to 1200 A

An outstanding 'Yaozhou' carved and dated pillow, Jin dynasty, Dated to the Fifth Year of the Cheng An Reign (Corresponding to 1200 A

Lot 87. An outstanding 'Yaozhou' carved and dated pillow, Jin dynasty, Dated to the Fifth Year of the Cheng An Reign (Corresponding to 1200 A.D.); height 4 in., 10.2 cm; widest 8 5/8 in., 21.9 cm Estimate USD 80,000 — 120,000. Lot sold USD 97,000© Sotheby's.

the bean-shaped top accentuated by an accomodating concave surface, superbly-carved with a reclining boy gazing upward and grasping the stems of a lotus flower and leaf amidst scrolling motifs, the tapered sides featuring a frontal scene of two ducks in a lotus pond, the remaining section depicting alternating lotus flowers and leaves with a circular vent at the back, applied with an olive-green glaze with fine craquelure, the brown-spotted unglazed base inscribed and dated.

Note: The inscription on the base of this pillow reads and can be translated as follows: 

Cheng An wu nian si yue ershi san ri Yin Li er jia ji.
"Recorded by the two families Yin and Li on the twenty-third day of the fourth month of the fifth year of the Cheng An reign" (equivalent to 1200 A.D.).

'Yaozhou' head-rests or pillows are extremely rare and no similar example appears to be recorded. Two 'Yaozhou' head-rests both in the form of a sleeping boy reclining on an oval mat have been published, one from the Jaehne collection in the Newark Museum, New Jersey, included in the exhibition Chinese Art from the Newark Museum, China House Gallery, China Institute in America, New York, 1980; and one illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. Three (II), London, 2006, pl. 1479.

Compare also a 'Yaozhou' pillow in the Seikado Bunko Art Museum, included in the exhibition The Masterpieces of Yaozhou Ware, Yamaguchi Kenritsu Hagi Bijutsukan, Hagi, 1997, cat.no. 37, of lobed bean-shape and carved with the design of birds and flowers; and another pillow of octagonal form decorated with floral scoll, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, published in The World's Great Collections. Oriental Ceramics, vol. 10, Tokyo, 1980, pl. 21.

The design of 'boys and lotus' can be found on 'Yaozhou' bowls; for example see a bowl included in the exhibition Sung Ceramics, National Museum, Stockholm, 1949, cat.no. 193, sold in our London rooms, 13th December 1966, lot 57; and one, from the George Eumorfopoulos collection, included in R.L. Hobson, Catalogue of the Chinese, Corean and Persian Pottery and Porcelain, vol. 2, London, 1926, pl. LII, no. B191.

The inspiration of this pillow may have come from qingbai head-rests; see a somewhat earlier qingbai pillow of very similar bean-shape, the top molded with the motif of boys playing among flowers, from the Eumorfopoulos collection and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, published in Rose Kerr, Song Dynasty Ceramics, London, 2004, pl. 102.

Sotheby'sFine Chinese Ceramics And Works Of Art, New York, 18 March 2008

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