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AUA Oriental Art



Regular price $3,990.00 USD
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Crafted from fine clay, the pillow's surface boasts a sophisticated carved design featuring a floral motif that is both symmetrical and organic. The interplay of the earthy tones and the creamy white slip beneath reveals the intricate craftsmanship involved in its creation. This dual-tone effect was achieved through the sgraffito technique, where the top layer of slip is carved to expose the contrasting clay body underneath.

The form of the pillow, with its rounded edges and smooth contours, not only exemplifies the aesthetic values of the period but also illustrates the practical considerations of comfort and function in everyday objects of the time.

A piece like this would not only serve as a functional item in daily life but also as a decorative element, displaying the owner's sophisticated taste and the cultural importance of art in domestic life during the Song-Jin dynasty.

Period : Song-Jin Dynasty, 11th-12th Century
Type : Pillow
Medium : Cizhou Ware
Size : 26 cm(Diameter), 14cm(Height)
Provenance : Acquired in 1999, Hongkong

Reference : 
1) Bonhams London 2 NOVEMBER 2020 Asian Art - Lot 349
(Price : 3,000-4,000 GBP / Type : Closely related)


* Cizhou Ware

Cizhou is the name given to a number of stonewares, grey or buff, of varying degrees of hardness, with painted, incised or carved decoration on a clay slip. These stonewares were not only made in the region of Cizhou, Hebei Province, but in several provinces of China during the Song, Yuan and Ming periods. The great centres of production were in the north of China in the provinces of Hebei, Henan and Shanxi.

Cizhou wares seem to have been very popular, made for a clientèle of rich merchants, at a period when the paintings of famous artists adorned the walls of tea houses of the capital. While this type of pottery did not apparently attract Chinese collectors of the 18th and 19th centuries, it was much appreciated by the Japanese as a kind of folk art, for its rustic look. Nowadays Cizhou fetch very high prices at public auctions.

In the past fifty years, kilns producing Cizhou wares have been identified and excavated. This has made it possible to know the exact origin of certain types and to study the evolution of the ware.

Song potters used several methods of decorating Cizhou: vases, jars, pots, boxes and pillows. Champleve decoration appears at the beginning of the Song period in Henan at Dengfengxian and at Xiuwu. This method consisted of covering the vessel with a white slip, then carving and incising the design as to expose the brown of the body below. The whole surface was then glazed. After firing, the brown of the body formed a striking contrast with that of the glaze covering the white slip. Sometimes the design stands out against a ground of little circles stamped with a metal or bamboo tool. This decoration was often used on Tang metalwork. A variant of the technique used in the 11th century consisted of incising the little circles through the slip, then filling the lines with brick-red paint. The object, generally a pillow or cup, was then glazed. In another type of decoration called sgraffito, two layers of slip were placed one over the other, a brown slip, for example, over a white one, or vice versa over the parts destined for decoration; then the design was drawn by incising and scratching the upper layer, and the whole thing was covered with a transparent glaze.

Reference : Irv Graham

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