This amusing pillow is modeled in the form of a crouching tiger, with head upturned and fangs bared. The body is covered with amber-orange glaze, which, in turn, is painted with lively black stripes imparting a naturalistic look and rhythmic flare. The top of the headrest is painted with a central medallion encircling a butterfly hovering above an orchid and lotus leaf, all flanked with floral sprays.
The earliest dates inscribed on tiger-form pillows are from the Chin dynasty (1115-1234) and the theme itself may be derived from paintings of tigers, which were popular throughout the Sung period (960-1279). This type of two-color (tan and black) slip painted decoration is one of over twenty decorative techniques developed at the several Tz'u-chou kilns of North China. This marvelous example is exceptionally well preserved.