An inscribed rectangular painted 'Cizhou' 'figural' pillow, Northern Song - Yuan dynasty

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Lot 325. An inscribed rectangular painted 'Cizhou' 'figural' pillow, Northern Song-Yuan dynasty (960-1368). Length 16⅛ in., 40.9 cmLot sold: 31,500 USD (Estimate: 25,000 - 35,000 USD). © Sotheby's 2022

with a five-character inscription reading Zhangbin Yiren zhi (Made by the idler of the bank of the Zhang), the base with an inscription reading Zhao ji xx yi hao in black ink.

NoteNotable on account of its inscription, Zhangbin Yiren zhi, the present lot belongs to a small group of finely painted Cizhou pillows that were made by this unidentified master craftsman who was working at the kilns. Decorated with a narrative scene within a lobed, shaped cartouche reserved against a dense floral ground, this piece is an archetypal example of the pillows that have been attributed to this maker. 

For closely related examples with the same inscription, see one in the Musée Guimet, Paris (accession no. MA6204); another purchased from George Eumorfopoulos in 1936, in the British Museum, London (accession no. 1936.1012.219); and a third excavated in Cixian, Hebei province in 1997, illustrated in the Complete Collection of Ceramic Art Unearthed in China, vol. 3: Hebei, Beijing, 2008, p. 186. See also another pillow attributed to this master, with a 266-character-long inscription and of great historical importance, gifted by Mr. and Mrs. Yang Yongde to the Museum of the Western Han Tomb of Nanyue King, Guangzhou, illustrated in Gems from the Relics of the Museum of the Western Han Tomb of the Nanyue King, Guangzhou, 2007, p. 123. The latter three all have four-character marks to the base that attribute them to Wang Shouming, who was believed to have produced pillows in Cixian, Hebei.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 21 september 2022