This research is formulated around the narration of pillows, the historical materials used in it’s aesthetic make-up, and how it has been conceptualized in the contemporary art world today. Though the pillow is used as a universal comforting object, the history of pillows and its cultural differences may shock you.
We can find the oldest pillows date back to around 7,000 BC in ancient Mesopotamia. Made of stone the pillow becomes anything, but comforting compared to our fluffy pillows today (inspired after the Greeks and Romans). Though they might have kept the bugs away, the idea of sleeping on a cold stone seems torturous, depending on how tired you are. In Egypt they were made out of wood, carved with hieroglyphics, and illustrated with depictions of gods to keep away bad spirits.
In China they used many different materials from wood, jade bamboo and ceramic. The different materials were believed to hold some healing effect upon the sleeper. Jade’s hard surface was used to heighten the sleepers intellect. Where soft pillows were believed to steal a person’s energy from them. Ceramic pillows take further consideration into aesthetics. The ornate figures and forms holding up the structure was used as a symbol to portray a person’s status. China painting was used to decorate and illustrate the forms further.
This ceramic pillow, from the Jin Dynasty, illustrates a poem. ‘The wind rustles flowers under a snow white moon’. The decoration was clearly meant to be seen and discussed, even though placed in an intimate and private area.Most of the ceramic pillows from this era were of lounging women. Never would a man be caught lounging
This cizhou ceramic pillow was illustrated in a manner the appropriated the domesticated gender rolls. It’s this specific narration of the pillows that I am focused on in my research. A woman owned this pillow to remind them of their maternal roll in the bedroom. The pillow being associated with a women and a feminist views on contemporary culture today. The activities of a woman’s marital role has change in the past hundred years. Even the maternal expectations of a young women getting pregnant has changes. All of these topics of conversations were once pointedly illustrated on these ceramic pillows. Though the feminist research of pillows related to a feminist identity is a continuation of my work it is still something I am learning about. This current research leads me into talking about, the context behind the body of a pillow used in other artist working in the contemporary arts.
. Mika Negishi Laidlaw is a Japanese, artist who specializes in complex ceramics. Her ceramic pillows capture a surreal weightlessness to the physical body of the material and form. The contradiction to our minds eye. Her work primarily centers around this idea of “Unconditional Love” and “Memory of Cells”. The time she had spent nurturing and caring for her children is a strong relations to the form and figure of her work. These ceramic pillows balancing onto of each other and embracing these colorful organic forms clearly demonstrates this. I wonder if Mika realizes that the historical background of the chinese ceramic pillows has a strong relationship to her current work. In that the ceramic pillow was used to illustrate a woman’s nurturing maternal role.