Jul 6, 2016
Jul 6, 2016

Headrest with Three Lions

Headrest with Three Lions


Glazed earthenware, sancai (three-color ware)

Overall: 13.4 x 37.9 x 18.2 cm (5 1/4 x 14 15/16 x 7 3/16 in.)

Weight: 4.9 kg (10.8 lbs.)

Gift of Donna and James Reid 2017.15

Did you know?

Headrests are not just decorative—they would also be slept on as pillows.


Three lions—two ferocious adults and one playful cub—form the base of this Chinese headrest. Often found at burial sites, headrests probably had multiple uses for their owners, but their exact origins are unknown. As ceramic pillows, headrests were cooling on hot summer nights. As decorative objects, their form and ornamentation conveyed symbolic meaning for their owners. Lions are used as decoration on headrests because of their association with protection, as fierce beasts with the strength to ward off evil spirits while one sleeps.

While headrests made of hard materials may seem unusual now, their use crosses time periods and cultures.

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.