A Carved Wooden Pillow: Shanxi Province, China
ca. late nineteenth, early twentieth century
5 3/4" x 10 1/2" x 2 1/2", 14.5 cm x 26.5 cm x 6.25 cm
This hand hewn wooden Chinese pillow or head rest was chosen for its sculptural presence. It has a striking form, one that calls to mind Modernist sculpture which uses reductivist forms as the base for its visual vocabulary.
As many of you know, pillows in the far East, when used, were often made of wood, padded wood, and in some cases ceramic. That said, their function was to rest the head on an incline instead of acting as a soft, gentle cushion. Pillows of this sort were also helpful in keeping one's elaborate hairstyle neatly in place while resting.
This one is said to be from Shanxi Province, China. It is rustic. The wood is roughly hewn and is unfinished--and, if you look at photos of the surface of piece you can see nicks and dings from years of wear.
A beautiful form, this folk art wooden pillow has an arresting presence which speaks to a larger scale than its actual small size.