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Korean ceramics: "Moon" Jar

by unknown


This vessel, titled "Moon" Jar , is from 17th century Korea. It is porcelain, glazed with a white glaze and is perhaps 16 or 18 inches in height. -- Gift of an anonymous donor and Louise Lutz Estate; Russell Tyson Endowment, 2001.413 -- Technical notes and a subjective response to the piece, from a potter: Perhaps the most striking quality of this piece is its remarkable feeling of volume, almost of swelling, as if the space on the interior of the piece is expanding and pushing out the form of the piece. This creates both a sense of the interior space of the piece and a feeling of tautness on the surface of the form, as if it is being pulled tight, stretched like the skin of a ripe fruit. This is a powerful expression of form and space, at the same time that the piece possesses a strong quality of dignity and reserve, due perhaps to the near symmetry of the form, top to bottom, the lack of deliberate decoration on the surface, and the quiet of the white semi-matte glaze surface. There is, however, great subtlety in the glaze surface, when we look closely at the piece, with a rich pattern of fine crackling in the glaze surface, and some remarkable and subtle color variations across the surface. A very noticeable, yet quiet glaze color variation is found in the patches of a very pale pinkish color visible in several places, such as on the left in this image, just above the middle of the piece, the belly of the piece. These probably were caused by an impurity in the clay body volatilizing, burning out, during the firing of the form, causing a chemical reaction in the glaze, proper, imparting the slightest blush of color to the basically white glaze. A similar type of effect is seen, e.g., in the famous halo effect on pieces from the Asahi kiln, Uji, Japan. -- Technically, it would be extremely difficult to throw a porcelain vessel of this size and extention on the potters' wheel in one piece. If you look very carefully at the contour of the curve of the form, you will note that, right at the belly, the point of maximum extension of the form, the curve appears to straighten out ever so slightly. Also, right at the middle of the form, particularly on the right half of the piece, there appears to be a very, very slight line or seam, a slightest break in the smooth surface of the over-all piece. These two slight variations in the form suggest (to this writer) that perhaps the form was accomplished by taking two forms, bowl -like forms, that had been thrown separately, and joining them rim to rim, one upside down on top of the other one, to create this total form. (Alternately, the piece may have been created using the technique known as "coil and throw," a technique widely used in East Asian ceramics, as in the storage jar from Shigaraki, Japan, also in this exhibition. The bottom section of a piece would be thrown, then allowed to dry out and stiffen somewhat. After being recentered on the potters' wheel, a thick coil of soft clay would be added to the rim of the bottom section and the top portion of the form would be pulled up out of that thick coil of clay.) We might notice also that the foot of the piece and the rim of the piece are nearly identical in form and size, adding to the impression of two bowl forms joined rim to rim. The foot and rim of the total form do something else that is worth noting- because they both are straight cylindrical forms and are visually the same size, they may suggest visually a cylindrical form that runs straight through the entire form, giving it a strong sense of structure that both contains and supports the powerful swelling of the contour of the form.


Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only, in accordance with Fair Use policies. Acknowledgement to be given to the IDEAS Project and to the photographer.

Administrative Notes

Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only, in accordance with Fair Use policies. Acknowledgement to be given to the IDEAS Project and to the photographer.

Copyright restrictions apply.
Earlham College
994 w x 1125 h, 150 ppi