NORTHERN SONG DYNASTY
Qingbai pillows are rare and the present piece is exceptional for the confidently moulded figures and exquisitely incised details. From the elegant design on the upper surface to the intricate combed curved lines that cover the body of the larger lion and the remarkable modelling of the facial features and paws of the two creatures, this piece is extremely rare and only one other pillow featuring a striding lion is known; see one with a more simplified figure of a lion illustrated in the Complete Works of Chinese Ceramics, vol. 8, Shanghai, 1999, pl. 196.
Compare pillows with various figural supports, such as one made in the image of two fiercely-wrestling lions, such as one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (II), Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 155; another modelled with two fighting dragons, sold in these rooms, 7th June 2000, lot 103; and a third with the support in the form of a reclining lady, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, included in Oriental Ceramics. The World's Great Collections, vol. 12, Tokyo, 1977, pl. 23.The lion on the present pillow embodies the attributes of both male and female through its brocade ball and cub respectively. The fierce expressions, bushy eyebrows, triangular teeth, and delicate rendering of fur are characteristic of figures of lions made in the Hutian kilns of Jingdezhen. For an incense burner in the shape of a seated lion, see one published in Chai Kiln and Hutian Kiln, Guangzhou, 2004, p. 70; and a figure of a Buddhist lion with a brocade ball, in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, included in Stacey Pierson (ed.), Qingbai Ware: Chinese Porcelain of the Song and Yuan Dynasties, London, 2002, pl. 116.
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