Shallow Bowl with Peony DesignArtist(s)KoreanArtist NationalityKorean (culture or style)Object Creation Date13th centuryMedium & Supportstoneware with inlaid decoration under celadon glazeDimensions
3 1/16 in. x 7 1/2 in. x 7 5/8 in. ( 7.7 cm x 19 cm x 19.4 cm )Credit LineGift of Bruce and Inta Hasenkamp and Museum purchase made possible by Elder and Mrs. Sang-Yong NamLabel copy
March 28, 2009
Celadon originated in China, but the technique of decorating it with inlaid motifs is a Korean invention. Designs are first carved in the leather-hard clay body, and the resulting cavities are filled with a white or black slip (liquid clay). The excess slip is then wiped clean from the surface and the entire vessel coated with thin, semitransparent celadon glaze. The best glaze was thin with few bubbles, producing a bright sheen that clearly showed the elegance of the inlaid designs. On this high-quality bowl (6), a sparse network of fine crackles enhances the beauty of the grayish blue glaze.
The four white floral sprays depicted inside the bowl beneath a narrow band of white arabesque scrolls are litchis, a sweet fruit native to southern China that would have been a luxury import to the Goryeo court. On the exterior, four double-ring chrysanthemum roundels in black-and-white inlay decorate the body beneath a narrow band of three lines of white inlay. The use of black-and-white inlay on the exterior but only white on the interior creates a subtle visual contrast between the two sides. The pictorial design exemplifies the balance between restraint and exuberance achieved in the best pieces of inlaid celadon.
Compared to the similar, earlier bowl (6) with the litchi design on the left, this one (7) is the lesser in technique and color. Parts of the body are discolored due to misfiring, and the glaze near the foot is marred. Although the pictorial design shows balance and restraint, the inlaid work is somewhat stiff and uninspired compared to that observed in the litchi bowl. This later bowl is best viewed as a transitional piece between the golden age of inlaid celadon in the second half of the twelfth century and its demise in the fourteenth century.
Among the innumerable shades of celadon, the clear, blue-green tone seen here comes closest to the kingfisher blue or jade green that is most prized by connoisseurs past and present. The underlying blue tone of the glaze is particularly noticeable where it has gathered near the foot. The surface is exceptionally smooth and without crackle. While this cup once had a matching footed saucer or stand and is thought to have been used for wine, it could have also been used for serving poured tea at court, where tea drinking was part of the daily routine in Goryeo times. The decoration subtly and intimately communicated to the cup’s user, coming into view just as the cup was brought up to the lips.
Compared to the similar, earlier bowl with the litchi design on the left, this one is the lesser in technique and color. Parts of the body are discolored due to misfiring, and the glaze near the foot is marred. Although the pictorial design shows balance and restraint, the inlaid work is somewhat stiff and uninspired compared to that observed in the litchi bowl. This later bowl is best viewed as a transitional piece between the golden age of inlaid celadon in the second half of the twelfth century and its demise in the fourteenth century.
(Label for UMMA Korean Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)Subject matter
Bowl with peony design.Physical Description
This type of celadon was produced in large quantities during the 13th century when celadon with inlaid designs became more decorative. The upper part of the inner wall features a band of scroll design inlaid with white slip close to the rim, below which are four double concentric circles each containing a peony spray inlaid with black and white slip. Glaze was applied down to the rim of the foot. Three quartzite spur marks remain on the outer base. The entire inner surface features ne crazing. Two horizontal bands inlaid with white slip surround the upper part of the outer surface. The glaze was partially oxidized, tinged with brown.
[Korean Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (2014) p.105]
Shallow bowl with celadon glaze. Four peony designs encapsulated by a double-ringed circle float equally spaced along the inner curve of the bowl. A wavy fret design marks the inner rim, while the outer is marked by two or three incised lines.Primary Object Classification Ceramic Primary Object TypebowlCollection AreaAsianRights
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ceramics (object genre)