Ewer, 12th century
Stoneware with celadon glaze 15 in. x 8 1/2 in. (Diam.) (38.1 cm x 21.59 cm)
Crocker Art Museum, Jennie Crocker Fassett Collection1925.3.30
The high point of Korean ceramic production occurred during the Goryeo Dynasty (918 - 1392). During this period, the Koreans greatly admired Chinese culture and seem to have paid particular attention to the Chinese Song period ceramics, renowned for their elegant shapes and monochrome glazes. Beginning in the 9th century, the Koreans emulated the celadon yue ware of China. Celadon fires in a range of white to brown, the color dependent on the amount of iron oxide in the glaze and the potter’s regulation of the reducing atmosphere (using less oxygen) in the kiln. By the 11th century, Korean potters had perfected their favored blue-green tone through the use of ferrous oxide dissolved in lime glaze. This ewer is in the shape of a double gourd, a shape popular during the Goryeo Period and a symbol of longevity and fertility. The ewer would have been placed in a matched bowl containing hot water to keep the wine warm. The handle of the ewer is braided and the loop attached to the upper portion of the handle held a cord to attach to the small lid. The potter incised the decoration prior to glazing the vessel. The lotus on the lower gourd is a symbol of purity and, in Buddhism, signifies one’s ability to rise above suffering, just as the perfect and beautiful lotus rises out of the mud of the pond. The trefoil cloud on the upper gourd mimics the sacred fungus, a symbol of longevity.