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Taoist Figure Celadon Pitcher, Goryeo Dynasty

Taoist Figure Celadon Pitcher, Goryeo Dynasty


Goryeo

Goryeo, also known as Koryŏ (Hangul:  고려 hanja:  高麗 Korean pronunciation:  [koɾjʌ] 918–1392), was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by King Taejo. This kingdom later gave name to the modern exonym "Korea". [1] It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean Peninsula until it was removed by the founder of the Joseon in 1392. Goryeo expanded Korea's borders to present-day Wonsan in the northeast (936–943), the Yalu River (993) and finally almost the whole of the Korean Peninsula (1374).

Two of this period's most notable products are celadon pottery and the Tripitaka Koreana—the Buddhist canon (Tripiṭaka) carved onto roughly 80,000 woodblocks and stored (and still remaining) at Haeinsa. Subjects and officials of Goryeo also created the world's first metal-based movable type in 1234 the oldest surviving movable metal type book, the Jikji, was printed in 1377.

In 668, Silla conquered Baekje and Goguryeo with an alliance with Tang China, but by the late 9th century it was tottering, its monarchs being unimaginative and pressed by the power of powerful statesmen. Many robbers and outlaws agitated and in 900 Gyeon Hwon revolted from Silla control in the Jeolla region as the state of Later Baekje the year after, Gung Ye revolted from the northern regions as Taebong. A son of a regional lord, Wang Geon, joined Taebong as a general.

Taebong fell when Wang Geon revolted and killed Gung Ye in 918 he was crowned Taejo of Goryeo in June of the same year. Silla was overpowered by Goryeo and Later Baekje and surrendered to Goryeo in 935. In 936, Later Baekje surrendered and Goryeo subsequently maintained an unbroken dynasty that ruled Korea for 474 years.

By the 14th century, Goryeo had lost much of its power due to the Mongols and their Yuan dynasty. Although King Gongmin managed to free his kingdom from the Yuan overlordship, General Yi Seonggye revolted and overthrew King Gongyang in 1392, establishing himself as Taejo of Joseon. Gongyang was killed in 1394.

This article contains Korean text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Hangul and hanja.


Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email [email protected]

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


Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email [email protected]

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


Etymology

The term "celadon" for the pottery's pale jade-green glaze was coined by European connoisseurs of the wares. One theory is that the term first appeared in France in the 17th century and that it is named after the shepherd Celadon in Honoré d'Urfé's French pastoral romance, L'Astrée (1627), who wore pale green ribbons. (D'Urfe, in turn, borrowed his character from Ovid's Metamorphoses V.210.) Another theory is that the term is a corruption of the name of Saladin (Salah ad-Din), the Ayyubid Sultan, who in 1171 sent forty pieces of the ceramic to Nur ad-Din Zengi, Sultan of Syria. [6] Yet a third theory is that the word derives from the Sanskrit sila and dhara, which mean "green" and "stone" respectively.


○ On Display: More than 80 pieces, including Maebyeong (Inlaid Celadon Vase) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Sakyamuni Buddha Lecturing on the Dharma from the Honolulu Museum of Art and Amitabha and Ksitigarbha from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

From June 5 to August 5, NMK and the Korea Foundation host the special exhibition Korean Art from the United States , collecting major works from the Korean collections of American museums. Consisting of three sections, this exhibition presents more than 80 Korean artworks from nine major museums in the United States.

Section 1—“Collecting: The History of Korean Art Collections at US Museums”¬?explores the history of Korean art collection in American museums, which dates to the late 19th century, when Joseon (1392-1910) opened its ports to foreign nations. In those early days, most American collectors focused on ceramics, especially Goryeo celadon, such as the celadon maebyeong with inlaid flower and bird design (Figure 1) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which was purchased from Edward Morse (1838-1925). In the late 19th century, the Joseon royal family would occasionally present artworks to diplomatic delegations and foreign officials the celadon ewer with carved lotus petal design (Figure 2) that the Brooklyn Museum received from the Underwood family, who served in Korea as missionaries, presumably falls into this category. The Cleveland Museum of Art received the celadon bottle (kundika) with incised parrot design from John L. Severance (1863-1936), son of Louis H. Severance (1838-1913), an industrialist who helped found Severance Hospital in Seoul. However, not all Korean arts were recognized as of Korean origin. For example, Amitabha and Kshitigarbha (Figure 3) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art was thought to be Chinese until the 1970s, when its Korean origins were discovered.

From 1957 to 1959, the exhibition Masterpieces of Korean Art toured through the major US museums while greatly expanding many Americans’ views of Korean art. This was followed by the landmark exhibition 5000 Years of Korean Art from 1979-1981, coinciding with the accumulation of research on the history of Korean art. Since that time, US museums have been steadily expanding their Korean art collections, thanks in large part to support from local communities.

Section 2—“Exhibiting: Artworks in the Korean Collections at US Museums” ?displays Korean artworks arranged by museum in a sequence that represents when their Korean galleries first opened. The first US museum to have a gallery dedicated to Korean art was the Honolulu Museum of Art, an institution that has been attentive to ethnic and cultural diversity from its inception. The Korean Gallery at the Honolulu Museum of Art was established in 1927, the same year the museum opened to the public, and this exhibition brings together several pieces featured in the photo of the exhibition taken at that time, including a celadon pitcher with lotus scroll design, a wooden statue of attendant, and the painting Shakyamuni Preaching at Vulture Peak (Figure 5). In 1989, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco became the first American museum to establish a Korean Art Department and appoint Korean Art curators, thus greatly promoting Korean art exhibitions and research projects. Among the museum’s Korean collection, most notable are the elegant celadon pitcher (Figure 7) with superb glaze color and the gilt-bronze Standing Buddha (Figure 8) which is made in the style in vogue at the height of the Unified Silla Period. Both pieces are part of the collection donated to the museum by Avery Brundage (1887-1975). Thanks to ongoing support by cultural organizations of Korea, the number of Korean galleries in US museums jumped dramatically in the 1990s and 2000s. The Philadelphia Museum of Art opened its Korean Gallery in 1992, and in 1997, the Korean Heritage Group of the Philadelphia Museum of Art was formed by local community figures. As a result, the museum’s Korean collection has expanded, and its exhibitions, research, and education programs on Korean art have been significantly bolstered. The celadon maebyeong with lotus and waterfowl design (Figure 9) boasting elaborate designs and form once belonged to the legendary financier J. P. Morgan (1837-1913). The display also includes artworks from the Brooklyn Museum the Los Angeles County Museum of Art the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston the Metropolitan Museum of Art the Cleveland Museum of Art and Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum.

Finally, Section 3—“Highlighting: Special Exhibitions of Korean Art and the Korean Galleries of US Museums”?illuminates the activities of Korean galleries and special exhibitions on Korean art in US museums through a vast display of catalogues and educational materials. With 2012 marking the 130th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and the US, this exhibition enhances visitors’ understanding and appreciation of how the status of Korean art has risen in the US over the past century.

Photograph ⓒ [2012] Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Figure 1. Maebyeong
Celadon with inlaid flower and bird design
Goryeo Dynasty (early 13th century)
Height- 28.2 cm, Diameter (mouth)- 5.2 cm, Diameter (base)- 10.4 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Morse Collection.
Purchased with funds donated by contribution.

Photograph ⓒ Brooklyn Museum

Figure 2. Pitcher
Celadon with carved lotus petal design
Goryeo Dynasty (mid-12th century), Height- 25.1 cm., Diameter (base)- 14.0 cm
Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Darwin R. James III.

Image ⓒ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Figure 3. Amitabha and Kshitigarbha
Late Goryeo Dynasty, Color on silk, 94.6 × 55.6 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1913.

Courtesy of National Research Institute Cultural Heritage,

Figure 4. Peach-shaped Water Dropper
White porcelain with cobalt-blue, iron-brown, and copper-red underglaze
Joseon Dynasty (19th century), Height- 11.7 cm, Diameter (base)- 7.4 cm
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bequest of Colonel Stephen McCormick, 2003.

Photograph ⓒ Honolulu Museum of Art

Figure 5. Shakyamuni Preaching at Vulture Peak
Joseon Dynasty (16th century), Gold on silk, 86.4 × 92.7 cm
Honolulu Museum of Art, Gift of Anna Rice Cooke, 1925.

Photograph ⓒ [2012] Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Figure 6. Sutra Box
Lacquerware with chrysanthemum scroll design with inlaid with mother-of-pearl
Goryeo Dynasty (13th century), Height- 25.8 cm, Length- 47.2 cm, Width- 24.8 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.

Photograph ⓒ Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. Used by permission.

Figure 7. Pitcher
Celadon
Goryeo Dynasty (12th century), Height- 24.4 cm, Diameter- 16.5 cm
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, The Avery Brundage Collection.

Photograph ⓒ Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. Used by permission.

Figure 8. Standing Buddha
Gilt bronze
Unified Silla Period (8th century), Height- 47.3 cm
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, The Avery Brundage Collection.

Courtesy of National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage,

Figure 9. Maebyeong
Celadon with incised lotus and waterfowl design
Goryeo Dynasty (12th century), Height- 40.6 cm, Diameter- 24.1 cm
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Purchased with the Fiske Kimball Fund and the Marie Kimball Fund, 1974.

Image ⓒ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Figure 10. Landscapes
Joseon Dynasty (15-16th century), Ink on silk, 88.3 x 45.1 cm (each)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchased, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest,
and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick P. Rose and John B. Elliott Gifts, 1987.

Photograph ⓒ The Cleveland Museum of Art

Figure 11. Basin
Bronze inlaid with silver
Goryeo Dynasty (13-14th century), Height- 17.0 cm, Diameter (mouth)- 28.3 cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund.


History

Neolithic

The earliest known Korean pottery dates back to around 8000 BC, [2] and evidence of Mesolithic Pit–Comb Ware culture (or Yunggimun pottery) is found throughout the peninsula, such as in Jeju Island. Jeulmun pottery, or "comb-pattern pottery", is found after 7000 BC, and is concentrated at sites in west-central regions of the Korean Peninsula, where a number of prehistoric settlements, such as Amsa-dong, existed. Jeulmun pottery bears basic design and form similarities to that of Mongolia, the Amur and Sungari river basins of Manchuria, the Jōmon culture in Japan, and the Baiyue in Southern China and Southeast Asia. [3] [4]

Later Silla

Pottery of the Later Silla period (668 – 935) was initially simple in color, shape, and design. Celadon subsequently became the main production.

Buddhism, the dominant religion of the time in Korea, increased the demand for celadon-glazed wares (cheongja), causing cheongja celadon to evolve very quickly, with more organic shapes and decorations, such as animal and bird motifs. When making cheongja wares, a small amount of iron powder was added to the refined clay, which was then coated with a glaze and an additional small amount of iron powder, and then finally fired. This allowed the glaze to be more durable, with a shinier and glossier finish than white wares.

Goryeo

The Goryeo dynasty (918 – 1392) achieved the unification of the Later Three Kingdoms under Wang Geon. The works of this period are generally considered to be the finest works of ceramics in Korean history. [5] [6] [7] Korean celadon reached its pinnacle with the invention of the sanggam inlay technique in the early 12th century. [8] [9] [10]

Key-fret, foliate designs, geometric or scrolling flowerhead bands, elliptical panels, stylized fish,insects,birds and the use of incised designs began at this time. Glazes were usually various shades of celadon, with browned glazes to almost black glazes being used for stoneware and storage. Celadon glazes could be rendered almost transparent to show black and white inlays. Jinsa "underglaze red", a technique using copper oxide pigment to create copper-red designs, was developed in Korea during the 12th century, and later inspired the "underglaze red" ceramics of the Yuan dynasty. [11] [12] [13] [14]

While the forms generally seen are broad-shouldered jars, larger low jars or shallow smaller jars, highly decorated celadon cosmetic boxes, and small slip-inlaid cups, the Buddhist potteries also produced melon-shaped vases, chrysanthemum cups often of spectacularly architectural design on stands with lotus motifs and lotus flower heads. In-curving rimmed alms bowls have also been discovered similar to Korean metalware. Wine cups often had a tall foot which rested on dish-shaped stands.

Baekja wares came from highly refined white clay, glazed with feldspar, and fired in regulated and clean large kilns. Despite the refining process, white glazes invariably vary as a result of the properties of the clay itself firing methods were not uniform, temperatures varied and glazes on pieces vary from pure white, in an almost snowy thickness, through milky white that shows the clay beneath deliberately in washed glaze, to light blue and light yellow patinas. After having succeeded the tradition of Goryeo baekja, soft white porcelain was produced in Joseon Dynasty, that carried on, but from the mid-Joseon on hard white porcelain became the mainstream porcelain. [15] [16]

The baekja wares reached their zenith immediately before the Joseon Dynasty came to power. Fine pieces have recently been found in the area around Wolchil Peak near Mount Kumgang. The transitional wares of white became expressions of the Joseon Dynasty celebrations of victory in many pieces decorated with Korean calligraphy. Traditionally white wares were used by both the scholarly Confucian class, the nobility and royalty on more formal occasions.

Joseon

During the Joseon dynasty, (1392 – 1897) ceramic wares were considered to represent the highest quality of achievement from royal, city, and provincial kilns, the last of which were export-driven wares. Joseon enjoyed a long period of growth in royal and provincial kilns, and much work of the highest quality still preserved.

Wares evolved along Chinese lines in terms of colour, shape, and technique. Celadon, white porcelain, and storage pottery were similar, but with certain variations in glazes, incision designs, florality, and weight. The Ming influence in blue and white wares using cobalt-blue glazes existed, but without the pthalo blue range, and the three-dimensional glassine colour depth of Ming Dynasty Chinese works.

Simplified designs emerged early on. Buddhist designs still prevailed in celadon wares: lotus flowers, and willow trees. The form most often seen was that of pear-shaped bottles. Notable were thinner glazes, and colourless glazes for buncheong or stoneware. During the Joseon period, Koreans applied the sanggam tradition to create buncheong ceramics. [17] [18] In contrast to the refined elegance of Goryeo celadon, buncheong is designed to be natural, unassuming, and practical. [19] However, the buncheong tradition was gradually replaced by Joseon white porcelain, its aristocratic counterpart, and disappeared in Korea by the end of the 16th century. [18] Buncheong became known and prized in Japan as Mishima. [20] [21] [22]

Joseon white porcelain representing Joseon ceramics was produced throughout the entire period of the Joseon dynasty. The plain and austere white porcelain suitably reflects the taste of Neo-Confucian scholars. [23] Qing colouring, brighter and almost Scythian in enamel imitation, was rejected by Korean potters, in favour of simpler, less decorated wares in keeping with a new dynasty that built itself on Confucian doctrine.

Generally, the ceramics of this dynasty is divided into early, middle, and late periods, changing every two centuries, approximately thus 1300 to 1500 is the early period, 1500 to 1700 the middle, and 1700 to 1900 – 1910 the late period.

The wares began to assume more traditional Korean glazes and more specific designs to meet regional needs. This is to be expected, as the Scythian art influences were of the former dynasty. The rise of white porcelain occurred as a result of Confucian influence and ideals, resulting in purer, less pretentious forms lacking artifice and complexity.


Neolithic

The earliest known Korean pottery dates back to around 8.000 BC, [2] and evidence of Mesolithic Pit–Comb Ware culture (or Yunggimun pottery) is found throughout the peninsula, such as in Jeju Island. Jeulmun pottery, or "comb-pattern pottery", is found after 7000 BC, and is concentrated at sites in west-central regions of the Korean Peninsula, where a number of prehistoric settlements, such as Amsa-dong, existed. Jeulmun pottery bears basic design and form similarities to that of Mongolia, the Amur and Sungari river basins of Manchuria, the Jōmon culture in Japan, and the Baiyue in Southern China and Southeast Asia. [3] [4]

Later Silla

Pottery of the Later Silla period (668 – 935) was initially simple in color, shape, and design. Celadon subsequently became the main production.

Buddhism, the dominant religion of the time in Korea, increased the demand for celadon-glazed wares (cheongja), causing cheongja celadon to evolve very quickly, with more organic shapes and decorations, such as animal and bird motifs. When making cheongja wares, a small amount of iron powder was added to the refined clay, which was then coated with a glaze and an additional small amount of iron powder, and then finally fired. This allowed the glaze to be more durable, with a shinier and glossier finish than white wares.

Goryeo

The Goryeo dynasty (918 – 1392) achieved the unification of the Later Three Kingdoms under Wang Geon. The works of this period are generally considered to be the finest works of ceramics in Korean history. [5] [6] [7] Korean celadon reached its pinnacle with the invention of the sanggam inlay technique in the early 12th century. [8] [9] [10]

Key-fret, foliate designs, geometric or scrolling flowerhead bands, elliptical panels, stylized fish, insects, birds and the use of incised designs began at this time. Glazes were usually various shades of celadon, with browned glazes to almost black glazes being used for stoneware and storage. Celadon glazes could be rendered almost transparent to show black and white inlays. Jinsa "underglaze red", a technique using copper oxide pigment to create copper-red designs, was developed in Korea during the 12th century, and later inspired the "underglaze red" ceramics of the Yuan dynasty. [11] [12] [13] [14]

While the forms generally seen are broad-shouldered jars, larger low jars or shallow smaller jars, highly decorated celadon cosmetic boxes, and small slip-inlaid cups, the Buddhist potteries also produced melon-shaped vases, chrysanthemum cups often of spectacularly architectural design on stands with lotus motifs and lotus flower heads. In-curving rimmed alms bowls have also been discovered similar to Korean metalware. Wine cups often had a tall foot which rested on dish-shaped stands.

Baekja wares came from highly refined white clay, glazed with feldspar, and fired in regulated and clean large kilns. Despite the refining process, white glazes invariably vary as a result of the properties of the clay itself firing methods were not uniform, temperatures varied and glazes on pieces vary from pure white, in an almost snowy thickness, through milky white that shows the clay beneath deliberately in washed glaze, to light blue and light yellow patinas. After having succeeded the tradition of Goryeo baekja, soft white porcelain was produced in Joseon Dynasty, that carried on, but from the mid-Joseon on hard white porcelain became the mainstream porcelain. [15] [16]

The baekja wares reached their zenith immediately before the Joseon Dynasty came to power. Fine pieces have recently been found in the area around Wolchil Peak near Mount Kumgang. The transitional wares of white became expressions of the Joseon Dynasty celebrations of victory in many pieces decorated with Korean calligraphy. Traditionally white wares were used by both the scholarly Confucian class, the nobility and royalty on more formal occasions.

Joseon

Blue and white porcelain jar with pine and bamboo designs was made in 1489, Joseon dynasty, Korea. Dongguk University Museum, Seoul. 15th century. Joseon dynasty, Korea. Blue and white porcelain jar with plum and bamboo design.

During the Joseon dynasty, (1392 – 1897) ceramic wares were considered to represent the highest quality of achievement from royal, city, and provincial kilns, the last of which were export-driven wares. Joseon enjoyed a long period of growth in royal and provincial kilns, and much work of the highest quality still preserved.

Wares evolved along Chinese lines in terms of colour, shape, and technique. Celadon, white porcelain, and storage pottery were similar, but with certain variations in glazes, incision designs, florality, and weight. The Ming influence in blue and white wares using cobalt-blue glazes existed, but without the pthalo blue range, and the three-dimensional glassine colour depth of Ming Dynasty Chinese works.

Simplified designs emerged early on. Buddhist designs still prevailed in celadon wares: lotus flowers, and willow trees. The form most often seen was that of pear-shaped bottles. Notable were thinner glazes, and colourless glazes for buncheong or stoneware. During the Joseon period, Koreans applied the sanggam tradition to create buncheong ceramics. [17] [18] In contrast to the refined elegance of Goryeo celadon, buncheong is designed to be natural, unassuming, and practical. [19] However, the buncheong tradition was gradually replaced by Joseon white porcelain, its aristocratic counterpart, and disappeared in Korea by the end of the 16th century. [18] Buncheong became known and prized in Japan as Mishima. [20] [21] [22]

Joseon white porcelain representing Joseon ceramics was produced throughout the entire period of the Joseon dynasty. The plain and austere white porcelain suitably reflects the taste of Neo-Confucian scholars. [23] Qing colouring, brighter and almost Scythian in enamel imitation, was rejected by Korean potters, in favour of simpler, less decorated wares in keeping with a new dynasty that built itself on Confucian doctrine.

Generally, the ceramics of this dynasty is divided into early, middle, and late periods, changing every two centuries, approximately thus 1300 to 1500 is the early period, 1500 to 1700 the middle, and 1700 to 1900 – 1910 the late period.

The wares began to assume more traditional Korean glazes and more specific designs to meet regional needs. This is to be expected, as the Scythian art influences were of the former dynasty. The rise of white porcelain occurred as a result of Confucian influence and ideals, resulting in purer, less pretentious forms lacking artifice and complexity.


Export porcelain

Nearly all exports of Korean ceramics went to Japan, and most were from provincial coastal kilns, especially in the Busan area. Export occurred in two ways: either through trading or through invasion and theft of pottery and the abduction to Japan of families of potters who made the wares. The voluntary immigration of potters was improbable since Joseon pottery was administrated by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy(工曹). As a national resource, pottery technician trade with foreign countries was prohibited.


Arts of Korea

  • The Arts of Korea
    Throughout its history, the Korean peninsula has been home to lively, innovative, and sophisticated art-making. Long periods of relative stability have allowed for the establishment of spiritual traditions, societal values, and artisan technologies specific to the region.

The displays in this gallery are organized by time period. The earliest art objects belong to the Three Kingdoms period (first century B.C.E.&ndash668 C.E.), when Korea’s elite were buried with large collections of ceramic vessels and jewelry. Buddhism arrived from China in the third century C.E. and began to gain popularity toward the end of this period. The region was unified for the first time under the Silla dynasty (668&ndash935), and both burials and Buddhist monuments became more elaborate and sophisticated.

The subsequent reign of the Goryeo dynasty (918&ndash1392) is often cited as the golden age of Korean art patronage because the royal court dedicated considerable expense to the creation of sumptuous and refined works of art for both religious and secular settings. Invasion by the Mongols in 1270 weakened Goryeo rule, and the dynasty struggled until giving way to the Joseon dynasty.

The Joseon is one of the world’s longest-ruling dynasties, lasting from 1392 to 1897. Early in this period, elite Koreans adopted Confucianism, setting Buddhism aside as the primary religion of the region. Confucian thought affected every aspect of Korean life, from governance and family structure to aesthetics.

From the earliest periods, Koreans have spoken their own language and practiced their own form of shamanist religion, both of which continued to thrive even as literary traditions and religious practices were introduced from China. Korea maintained trade with several neighboring nations until a period of self-imposed isolation that began in the seventeenth century. This isolation, followed by thirty-five years of Japanese occupation, meant that the history of Korean art was little known, even within Korea, until the second half of the twentieth century.

The Brooklyn Museum has been a pioneer in the appreciation and display of Korean art. The Museum sent a curator to Korea in 1913 and opened a permanent-collection gallery for Korean art, the first in the continental United States, in 1977. The present gallery, opened in 2017, is triple the size of that first space, allowing the Museum to reiterate its commitment to representing the diversity and elegance of Korean art.

In the fifth and sixth centuries, Koreans developed the world’s first high-fired stoneware. Fired to temperatures in excess of 1,000˚C, these ceramics were completely nonporous. They were thrown on a wheel, enabling the potter to give them thin, even walls. The Korean kiln, which probably originated in the Gaya region, consisted of a single large tunnel-like chamber built on the slope of a hill to provide a good draft for the wood-fueled fire. The dark color and lustrous surface on the shoulder of these stoneware vessels are a result of the silica in the wood ash.

Perhaps the greatest achievements of the Goryeo workshops were celadon-glazed ceramics: vessels of such an ethereal blue-green that even Chinese connoisseurs exclaimed about their color. Celadon glaze had existed for centuries, but Korean potters in royally sponsored kilns refined their materials and techniques to create the most delicate forms in the coolest tones. From Chinese tradition they borrowed the practice of carving the clay surface so the green glaze would accumulate in the indentations. But ceramicists also developed a distinctly Korean decorative technique, setting white or black clay into grooves on the vessel surface to create patterns under the transparent glaze.

When the Goryeo dynasty fell in the late fourteenth century, a new dynasty, the Joseon, assumed leadership of the Korean peninsula. Early ceramic wares made for the Joseon elite emulated the celadon-glazed, inlay-decorated ceramics of the preceding dynasty. Soon the Joseon court shifted its ceramic consumption to Korean-made porcelains, leaving the Buncheong-producing kilns to nonaristocratic clients.

Rules reserving porcelain for the aristocracy loosened over time, and by the eighteenth century kiln sites were producing large quantities of porcelain for wealthy households of various ranks. Porcelain was used primarily for presentation and storage of foodstuffs, for desk accoutrements, and for display, whereas metal dishes were favored for tableware.

In addition to a division of labor&mdashwomen took care of the home and children while men pursued public roles and engaged in lifelong scholarship&mdashKorean domestic life witnessed a division of aesthetics. While the men’s quarters were sparsely equipped with simply finished wood furniture and paintings with strong didactic messages, the women’s quarters could be decorated with bright embroidered pillows, elaborately inlaid cabinetry, and paintings bursting with birds and flowers.

Because furnishings made for women were so much more decorative, Western museums&mdashincluding the Brooklyn Museum&mdashoften collected them, neglecting the more staid and minimalist pieces that were designated for men. It is only in more recent history that Western collectors have come to understand that male connoisseurs would have rejected the ornament of women’s furnishings as frivolous and distracting.

The Brooklyn Museum is pleased to unveil Arts of Korea, a celebration of the Museum’s historic Korean collection and a preview of the future Arts of Asia and the Middle East galleries. The renovated Arts of Korea gallery is triple its original size and will display more than three times the amount of artworks and objects, many of which will be on view for the first time or after multiple decades in storage. Arts of Korea opens September 15, 2017, and is made possible by generous support from the National Museum of Korea.

A pioneer in the collection and display of Korean art, the Brooklyn Museum has amassed one of the country’s premier Korean collections and was one of the first museums in the United States to establish a permanent Korean art gallery. Arts of Korea presents 80 works of art, including a stunning selection of ceramics&mdashfrom early stoneware funerary vessels and inlaid celadons to later wares with freely painted underglaze decoration&mdashand rare examples of metalwork, furniture, painting, jewelry, and costume.

&ldquoThe Brooklyn Museum was one of the first to acknowledge the importance of Korean art,&rdquo said Joan Cummins, the Museum’s Lisa and Bernard Selz Senior Curator of Asian Art . &ldquoStewart Culin, our first Curator of Ethnology, traveled to Seoul in 1913, and this early commitment to Korean art attracted great gifts over the years. With this larger gallery, we’re excited to showcase the depth and breadth of the collection.&rdquo

Arts of Korea presents 1,800 years of the region’s varied and distinctive art-making through highlighted artworks and objects, including a twelfth-century Ewer in the Shape of a Lotus Bud, considered one of the world’s finest Korean ceramics on account of its delicate modeling and restrained decoration a recent curatorial discovery of an extremely rare early nineteenth-century wide-brimmed Official’s Hat for Ceremonial Occasions, later banned for its extravagant scale and an elaborate sixth-century Pair of Earrings that demonstrates the diffusion of art-making techniques across the Silk Road trade routes that connected East and West. In addition, a heavily embroidered cloak worn by nineteenth-century Korean brides, called a hwalot, will be on view for the first time since its acquisition in 1927 after undergoing extensive conservation treatments.

In addition to Arts of Korea, visitors will have the opportunity to preview signature works from the anticipated reinstallation of the Arts of Asia and the Middle East galleries on the Museum’s renovated second floor. Those masterworks include an exquisite bronze animal-form wine vessel of China’s Shang dynasty (thirteenth to eleventh century BCE) a sixth-century sandstone head from Cambodia a highly prized bronze icon of the Hindu god Shiva as Chandrashekhara (circa 970 CE) a glowering, larger than life-size head of a Japanese guardian figure a wonderfully preserved thirteenth-century image of a seated Maitreya from Tibet an inlaid brass candlestick from the Middle East a large portrait of an Iranian prince from the Qajar Dynasty of Iran and a Georgian-style silver urn made by a Cantonese master.

Arts of Korea is organized by Joan Cummins, Lisa and Bernard Selz Senior Curator of Asian Art, and Susan L. Beningson, Assistant Curator of Asian Art. The reinstallation of the Korea collection was made possible by three generous grants from the National Museum of Korea.

About the Arts of Asia and the Middle East Galleries

The Museum’s Arts of Asia and the Middle East collection consists of nearly 20,000 objects, including works considered among the most significant examples of the creative and artistic achievement of the regions. Once reinstalled, the renovated galleries will both celebrate the diversity that has long existed within all of the nations of the continent and demonstrate the exchange of goods and ideas across national boundaries. In addition to Arts of Korea, the display of the Arts of Asia and the Middle East collection will include galleries devoted to Arts of Japan Arts of China Arts of South Asia Arts of Buddhism Arts of Southeast Asia Arts of the Himalayas Arts of Asian Trade Routes and Arts of the Middle East.


Watch the video: Korean Pottery Story Of A Thousand Years Episode 1 (January 2022).