Printer Friendly Version

Korean Dragon Jar

Celadon wares, with their beautiful blue-green glazes, originated in China but brought fame to Korea during the Koryo dynasty (918-1392). The Chinese admired and collected Korean celadons.
Korea, Koryo dynasty, Double Gourd-Shaped Ewer, 12th century, glazed porcelaneous stoneware, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund and The Ellen and Fred Wells Fund

Blue and white glazes were popular in Ming-dynasty China. In Korea, this glazing technique was adopted by potters of the Choson dynasty.
China, Imperial Dragon Vase, 1426-35, porcelain with cobalt blue decor under a clear glaze, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton

Compare this Korean blue-and-white dragon jar to the blue-and-white Chinese jar.
Korea, Choson dynasty, Dragon Jar, 18th century, porcelain with underglaze cobalt design, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The William Hood Dunwoody Fund

key idea
Adopted and Adapted

Since the late Stone Age, potters have brought clay and fire together to make vessels for preparing and storing food and for use in ceremonies. In Asia, people in neighboring regions admired each other’s ceramic wares and learned from them. They adopted foreign technologies and techniques and then adapted them to their own work in clay.

Throughout the ages, Chinese art greatly influenced Korean ceramics, and Koreans, in turn, shared their knowledge and skill with the Japanese. Many developments in clays, glazes, and firing techniques reached Korea through trade with China. The spread of religions and philosophies also had an effect on art.

Although Chinese influence was so strong, Koreans always had a firm sense of their own identity, and they created ceramics, like this dragon jar, that are uniquely Korean.

The Japanese admired Korea’s Choson ceramics. Many tea masters collected them for use in tea ceremonies held in teahouses similar to this one.
Teahouse (chashitsu), built by the Yasuimoku Komuten Company in 2001, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Gift of the Friends of the Institute, the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation, the Commemorative Association for the Japan World Exposition (1970), the James Ford Bell Foundation, Patricia M. Mitchell, Jane and Thomas Nelson, and many others
January 2010