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Between and Mortarboard

UMMA Object Specific Fields

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Blue-and-White Water Dropper in the Shape of a Fish

Accession Number

Blue-and-White Water Dropper in the Shape of a Fish


Artist Nationality
Korean (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
late 19th century

Medium & Support
porcelain with blue underglaze painting

1 in. x 2 11/16 in. x 3 1/16 in. ( 2.5 cm x 6.8 cm x 7.8 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Bruce and Inta Hasenkamp and Museum purchase made possible by Elder and Mrs. Sang-Yong Nam

Label copy
This water dropper takes the shape of a curled fish: the air hole is tucked in the fold between the head and tail, and the spout is in the upper fin. This too was a popular design for water droppers, and the Hasenkamp-Nam collection includes a second, similar piece.
Maribeth Graybill, The Enduring Art of the Korean Potter, December 12, 2004-November 6, 2005

Subject matter
The shapes of water droppers often held symbolic significance. The fish represents diligence, vigilance, and academic success, making it a fitting symbol for a scholar.

Physical Description
A round water dropper in the shape of a curled fish. There are two holes, one located in the middle, near the tail fin, and the other near the head on the dorsal fin. The fish is a white and cobalt blue color.

This is a carp-shaped water dropper produced within the vicinity of Bunwon-ri, Gwangju-si, and Yeoju-si area in Gyeonggi-do in the late 19th century. Its upper surface features a realistic carp design in relief and entirely colored with cobalt blue. Such animal-shaped vessels are simple in form, but they were esteemed by many for their auspicious meaning. The base is flat, wide, and stained by ink.
[Korean Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (2014) p.184]

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
water dropper

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
calligraphy (process)
ceramic (material)
fish (animals)
porcelain (visual works)
vessels (containers)

4 Related Resources

Second Grade Tour: Fishing Focus My Community, My World
(Part of: Visit UMMA: Curricular Tour Descriptions for Teachers)
Cobalt & Blue
(Part of: Exchange and Influence on Global Trade Routes)

& Author Notes

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