Pillow with inscription by the Qianlong emperor dated 1768, Cizhou type ware

Historical period(s)
Northern Song or Southern Song dynasty, 12th century
Stoneware with white slip under colorless glaze and traces of cinnabar
Cizhou-type ware
H x W x D: 12.4 × 21 × 12.4 cm (4 7/8 × 8 1/4 × 4 7/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 13: Looking Out, Looking In: Art in Late Imperial China


China, Cizhou ware, clerical script, emperor, inscription, Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127), Southern Song dynasty (1127 - 1279), stoneware, white slip

To 1942
T. H. Ching, New York. [1]

From 1942
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from T. H. Ching, New York. [2]


[1] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

T. H. Ching


The Qianlong emperor (reigned 1736-95) often had inscriptions cut into the surfaces of the ceramics he collected; the choice of an archaic style of calligraphy known as clerical script complements the antique status of the pillow. The emperor pronounces that the pillow is Ding ware, an assumption he probably made based on its white color, but actually the pillow is a coarser-bodied ceramic from one of the Cizhou kilns. The inscription concludes with a well chosen allusion to a classic story about a young man who takes a nap using a magic pillow and in the time it takes to cook dinner, lives a lifetime full of events.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 63.
  • Robert L. Hobson. A Catalogue of Chinese Pottery and Porcelain in the Collection of Sir Percival David. London. vol. 1: p. 105.
  • Jan J. DeGroot. The Religious System of China. vol. 1, Taipei. vol. 1: p. 91.
  • Emperor Lung Ch'ien. Ch'ing Kao Tsung yu chi yung tz'u shih lu [Poems by the Ch'ien Lung Emperor Inscribed on his Collection of Pottery]. p. 30a.
  • Chuimei Ho, Bennet Bronson. Splendors of China's Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong. Exh. cat. London, New York, Chicago, March 12 - September 12, 2004. p. 233.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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