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Tiger Pillow



This Egyptian headrest is over four thousand years old!
Egypt, Headrest, about 2635-2155 B.C., hardwood


This headrest from the Luba culture protected its owner’s elaborate hairstyle.
Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Headrest, 19th century, wood and copper


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Animal figures decorate this large headrest from Papua New Guinea.
Oceania, Papua New Guinea, Middle Sepik River, Headrest, date unknown, wood, cane, and fiber


key idea
A Place to Rest Your Head

Americans today are accustomed to sleeping on soft, feathery pillows. But hard pillows and headrests, often made of wood, have been used in various cultures throughout the world—in Africa, India, the Pacific Islands, and elsewhere. Ancient Chinese texts refer to pillows made of wood or bamboo, and such pillows were used in China into the 20th century.

Ceramic pillows began to appear in China in the Tang dynasty (618–906), and lots of them were produced in the Song dynasty (960–1279). Because they are so durable, they have lasted longer than other types of pillows made in those times. Modern scholars once believed that ceramic pillows were made only for use in tombs. The Chinese had a tradition of placing ceramic models of household objects in tombs, for use in the afterlife. But from written records and other evidence we now know that ceramic pillows had a practical purpose, too. However, it’s hard to tell which pillows were for everyday use and which were for tombs.



 
   
January 2007