Jar, White Porcelain

  • Korea
  • Korea, Yi dynasty
  • 18c
  • White Porcelain
  • H-31.5 D-32
Catalogue Entry

Throughout the Yi dynasty in Korea, white porcelain was produced, but it was not until the 15th century that porcelain became most prevalent. A history of porcelain production can be divided into three periods in accordance with the changes that took place in white porcelain at the government kilns in Kwangju early period (1392-1649), middle period (1650-1751), and late period (1752-1880). During approximately 40 years from 1592 to 1636, the Korean dynasty experienced the darkest days in its history, when the country was devastated and all activities in national politics, economy, society, and culture came to a standstill. This was caused by two Japanese military invasions in the year of Imjin (1592) and Chongyu (1597), and two wars that tested the integrity of Korea's northern border in the year of Chongmyo (1627) and Pyongcha (1636).

These upheavals practically obliterated the porce-lain and ceramic industry. For instance, the Punch'ong ware which used to be fired widely in the early period disappeared and white porcelain became the main line of production. White porcelain, with variable quality, was produced in large quantities at local private kilns, while the official kilns were consolidated in the Kwangju region, Kyonggi-do. Porcelain produced in these facilities were stylistically different from ones made in the early period, not to mention the fact that the color of glaze became bluish. The present jar has a low mouth that leans out slightly and a plump body, a typical example of the so-called lantern type. A mark at the middle of the body indicates that the top and bottom pieces were made separately and connected later. Also clear marks remain to demonstrate that the piece was created on a potter's wheel. Inside the foot, a few grains of sand stuck on the surface. The thick, creamy bluish glaze seems to flow gently over the rotund surface, and the size of the mouth almost equals the size of the foot both of which are distinctive features of the middle period.