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Artist/maker unknown, Korean

Made in Korea, Asia

19th century

Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue decoration

3 1/2 x 3 3/4 inches (8.9 x 9.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift of Colonel Stephen McCormick in honor of the Korean Heritage Group, 2000

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The production of blue-and-white wares began in Korea around the mid-fifteenth century, the result of influence from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) wares of China. In the early Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), the Koreans had to import ore from China to make cobalt blue. The first reference to a blue-and-white ware made using Korean ore comes from the annals of King Sejo’s reign (1455-68), which tells of cobalt ore being discovered at Sunch’òn, a region in the extreme south of the peninsula, in the “eighth month of 1464.” The king was then presented with a porcelain decorated in blue from this native source.

Blue-and-white wares were mainly used in the Korean court and the households of the upper class during ancestral rites, but they were also used as utilitarian kitchenware and tableware. On the pieces destined for the royal household, the underglaze blue decoration was executed by professional court painters. Images of plants, flowers, birds, and animals constitute one of the painting genres, known as hwahwe yòngmohwa, borrowed from the traditional repertoire of literati painting.