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Korean Ceramics
Korean Buddhist Painting
Korean Ceramics

The collection of Korean ceramics in the Asia Society comprises a wide spectrum of traditions spanning approximately thirteen hundred years. The earliest examples date from the Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C.E.-668 C.E.) when the production of unglazed stoneware -- high-fired, gray-bodied pottery usually without an intentional coating of glaze -- flourished in the Koguryo, Paekche, and Silla kingdoms, as well as in the smaller Kaya Federation. Many functioned as burial objects, interred in the earthen mound tombs of the elite. The subsequent Unified Silla period (668-935) witnessed a continuation and refinement of the basic gray stoneware tradition, though now sometimes purposely glazed and often more elaborately decorated.

The emergence of celadon, or green-glazed ware, during the Koryo dynasty (912-1392) marks a turning point in the history of Korean ceramics. Not only was celadon a technological progress from the earlier stonewares but it also represented a shift in the concept of ceramics -- to an object of aesthetic appreciation, beyond its functional or symbolic values. The technology of celadon manufacture was probably introduced to Koryo by Chinese Yue ware potters either in the 9th or 10th century. Produced under the patronage of the royal court, the best of Koryo celadon are characterized by the adaptation of Chinese forms and the development of innovative designs, and especially by the distinctive "kingfisher" jade-green color of the glaze.

During the Choson dynasty (1392-1910), white ware, or porcelain, rather than the green-colored celadon stoneware, became the preferred and dominant type of ceramics, spurred in part by the austere neo-Confucian philosophy and aesthetics of the time. Besides undecorated white ware, porcelain painted with cobalt blue was popular throughout the Choson dynasty, eventually spreading beyond the upper-class consumer.

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Bowl-and-Saucer Sets

Bowl with Foliate Rim


Storage Jar


Storage Jar



Cup with Handle

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