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.