Ceramic pillows have been used in China since the Sui Dynasty for funerary purposes, as bedding and for smoking opium. In 1591 the scholar Kao Lien proclaimed that porcelain pillows “brighten the eyes and benefit the pupils” and when using at nighttime “one can read finely printed books”. In Medieval China ceramic pillows were used to flatten the back of a  baby’s head, which was considered attractive, and using pillows would provide the child “a beautiful advantage in life”. (Minnesota Institute of Arts) Jade and ceramic pillows offset the hot weather and were believed to increase health, vitality, body comfort and soothe the spirit. Pillows could impart qualities to the person who slept on them, so they were made in unique shapes with beautiful designs and virtuous symbols to be absorbed by those who slept on them. They were used in opium dens where large holes on the pillow sides allowed users to store valuables while they smoked and claimed the ceramic’s coolness offset the opium’s warmth and made the pillow feel soft as a cloud. Pillows were integrated into Chinese folklore and superstitions. In one legend a Taoist Immortal created a pillow from three stacked Taoist books to enable him to have pure and elegant dreams and another relates how a man would climb into his pillow to be magically transported to other places. (MIA)

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  • Antique Ceramic Pillow, China (3847JLS) $105

    H: 4″  W:  9.5″  D: 4.5 ” | FREE SHIPPING!

    This charming fanciful vintage underglaze blue and white porcelain pillow has added hand-painted green and red florals, fruits and vases in relief within framed geometric borders of blue cobalt oxide pigment. The top curves in the center to cradle the neck for comfort and flares outward. The front and back sides have charming painted relief images of vases on the front and fruit on the back. The top and bottom have seals applied to Chinese antiques indicating they were approved for export. There is a slight chip on the front, otherwise it is in excellent condition.


  • Antique Glazed Opium Pillow, Shiwan, China (3849A-ZHK) $235

    H: 7.25 ”    W: 5 ”    D: 5 ”    | FREE SHIPPING!

    This five-sided Shiwan stoneware pillow with slanted top, open bottom, vibrant glazed surface, and etched coin and  diamond design was used for smoking opium as the cool shell cradled the users’ heads and necks and offset the warmth of smoking and the hollow inside stored valuables. We have another which can be paired with it. If a candle is placed inside it emits an amazing shadowy form of a coin, which appealed to those in an opium state.


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