A Dengfeng tiger pattern fish-roe ground pillow

北宋   登封窯珍珠地劃虎紋枕

The pillow is of bean-shaped section with almost vertical sides. The upper surface is slightly concave and angled forwards, vigorously carved through a coating of white slip to the grey ground beneath  with a powerful tiger striding over rocks. The face of the beast is slightly lowered and turned, framed by a short mane and with tab-like ears. The stripes of the body are executed in paired strokes, with small spots lining the rear edge of the legs and the underside of the long sinuous tail. Small texture spots, applied with the points of a comb, fill the background of the coat. Rocks with simple combed decoration mark the ground, and in the sky is a single cloud with a frilled head and long tail. The space around the tiger is filled with a dense "fish-roe" pattern The sides are incised with loose petalled peonies. There is an airhole in the centre of the back. The base is unglazed.

Tiger-shaped pillows are  found in some numbers among the Cizhou family of wares, but it is very rare to find a tiger as the principal decoration. 

Designs on Dengfeng pillows and other wares appear to have been prepared using some kind of stencil,  as can be seen from the eyes of the tiger in the present case, which have been pricked through to mark the starting point of the design. 

Dimensions: Length: 25 cm, 9 ¾ inches

Date: Northern Song dynasty (960-1279)

Stock No. 1777

Price: On Request