Lot 3107
  • 3107


60,000 - 80,000 HKD
75,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • 27.6 cm, 10 7/8  in.
of hexagonal form, the marbled top with an abstract design of swirls of greyish-brown streaks simulating a dreamstone panel, the straight sides moulded with cusped cartouches enclosing flowers, covered overall save for the unglazed base with a green glaze


Collection of Benjamin Shepps.

Catalogue Note

This pillow is particularly unusual for its combination of moulded cartouches on the sides, and the marble effect on the top, which resembles three mountain peaks. Known as jiao tai, this technique of twisting and kneading together different coloured clays was developed in the Tang period. While several pillows employing this technique are known from the Tang dynasty, Liao versions are rare and no other closely related example appears to have been published. A pillow in the Shanghai Museum, completely made in the jiao tai technique and attributed to the 10th or 11th century, is illustrated in Hsieh Ming-Liang, Zhongguo gudai qian youtao de shijie [The world of ancient Chinese lead-glazed pottery], Taipei, 2014, pl. 8.12. Tang versions were excavated at the Gongxian kilns at Huangye in Gongyi, Henan province, and are illustrated in Three-Colour Glazed Pottery Kilns of the Tang Dynasty at Huangye, Beijing, 2000, col. pls 61.1 and 2, 62.1-4, 63.1, 64.3, and 65.1 and 2.  It is interesting to note that the unusual moulded floral cartouches on this piece may be inspired by architectural elements originally made in timber. While related motifs in wood are no longer extant, a raised rectangular platform painted with similar floral cartouches, from the tomb of Zhang Kuangcheng, dated 1093, is illustrated in the catalogue to the exhibition Gilded Splendor: Treasures of China’s Liao Empire (907-1125), Asia Society and Museum, New York, 2006, fig. 21.

Benjamin Shepps went to China as part of General Douglas MacArthur's staff in 1945. He remained in Beijing until 1949-1950 buying antiques for himself as well as New York dealers, especially The "Macreey Sisters" (socialites) who he said bought the business of Yamanaka, New York after WWII. Prominent amongst his clients and friends was Ralph Chait to whom he sold many items.