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Ewer in the Form of a Melon
Ewer in the Form of a Melon, 12th century
Porcellaneous stoneware with celadon glaze
6 1/4 x 6 inches (15.9 x 15.2 cm)
Gift of Colonel Stephen McCormick, 1998
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About This Object

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, this little pot may have been used during social gatherings to pour rice wine into the cups of Korean aristocrats. Many elegant drinking cups, cup stands, tea bowls, and wine ewers like this one still remain from the Koryŏ dynasty (918–1392), helping us imagine the refined lifestyle of the Korean upper classes.

This vessel has been shaped in the form of a melon. Every bulging lobe is free of decoration. The delicate, green glaze that pools in the spaces between each lobe creates darker green lines. The round lid is crowned with the design of a twelve-petaled flower, its looped stem serving as a knob. The handle is designed to look like the curling stem of a melon plant. A loop near the top of the handle could be used for a cord to secure the lid.

Pots with this type of grayish-green glaze are known as celadon ware (a term coined in the West), and are highly prized throughout Asia. The color is achieved by applying an iron oxide glaze on a ceramic vessel. When fired in a kiln in which the oxygen has been reduced, the iron oxide in the glaze turns green, creating this famous color. During the Koryŏ dynasty, celadon ware reached its peak in terms of design and production. Patrons throughout Korea, China, and Japan were eager to own and use Korean celadon vessels, with their translucent and subtle blue-green or gray-green color.

Discover more about Korean celadon in the Teacher Resource Cosmetic Box.

This object is included in Learning from Asian Art: Korea, a teaching kit developed by the Division of Education and made possible by a grant from the Freeman Foundation of New York and Stowe, Vermont.


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