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  • Thumbnail for East Asian Ceramics:  Then and Now.  05,  Punch'ong-ware Flask
    East Asian Ceramics: Then and Now. 05, Punch'ong-ware Flask by unknown

    In this Korean piece, a folk art piece from the 15th century, we see a whimsical design of fish that, in fact, makes a sophisticated use of positive and negative shapes. The surface of the stoneware vessel was coated with a thick white slip (a clay in a liquid state), done while the vessel, itself, was still damp, semi-soft clay. A sharp tool was then used to draw the design on the surface, with the tool cutting away a line in the white surface slip, revealing the darker clay of the vessel body beneath the slip. The piece was then glazed with a clear (transparent) glaze that would reveal the pattern under the glaze after firing. Although the glaze is clear, after firing it has a pale greenish color. This color comes from the presence of iron oxide in the glaze, which may have been added to the glaze before application or it may be iron from the dark, iron rich clay body used to make the piece. In the latter case, the iron would be pulled into the glaze during the firing process, which would be done in a wood-burning kiln with the presence of smoke and carbon monoxide creating the cool, greenish iron color (in the presence of a clear burning flame, iron oxide would produce a different palette of colors, ranging from tan to a sienna orange -kaki color in Japan- to the black of temmoku glazes). It is this particular greenish iron color that gives these Korean wares their name, punch’ong. The thick potting of this piece identifies it as the product of a rural, folk art kiln; this was not created as a “work of art.†-- Bequest of Russell Tyson, 1964.936

  • Thumbnail for East Asian Ceramics:  Then and Now.  06,  Vase by Choi Sungjae
    East Asian Ceramics: Then and Now. 06, Vase by Choi Sungjae by Sungjae, Choi (1962 - )

    This slab-formed bottle vase form, titled 1cMeditation-Staying V, 1d is a contemporary Korean piece. It refers to the much earlier Korean tradition of Punch 19ong-ware, as seen in the Punch 19ong-ware Flask in this exhibit (represented here in image ecasia000359). 1cMeditation-Staying V 1d refers to the earlier tradition through its use of materials and decorative technique. It is a form constructed of slabs ( 1csheets 1d) of clay, cut and assembled when stiff enough to be handled without deforming them [incidentally, if you look carefully at the lower portion of the piece, you can discern a line that shows that the top of the body of the piece sits on a slab that forms the bottom of the piece]. The two lugs on the shoulder of the piece are bits of soft clay added as accents after the piece was assembled (they derive from loops of clay on the shoulders of pieces, formerly functional forms, as might be used, e.g., to attach cords to tie down a piece of material to seal the mouth of a jar). The neck of this piece, as seen from a higher point of view, is oval in shape; it could have been formed with a slab of clay or might have been thrown on a potters 19 wheel (thrown as a cylinder, then squeezed to the oval form used on the piece). The finished form, before firing, was coated with a thick white clay slip, using a broad, coarse brush to apply the slip. The potter 19s finger or a tool of some sort then was used to draw through the soft slip surface, revealing the dark clay body beneath the slip coating. [Many persons will recall using a similar technique in school art classes to create drawings on 1cscratch-board. 1d] When fired, probably in a 1csmoky 1d reduction atmosphere, the clear glaze takes on the cool tonality of reduced iron oxide and shows a slight greenish cast, similar to the effect created on traditional Punch 19ong-ware. The imagery on the piece also refers to the earlier tradition of Punch 19ong-ware in its content and spirit. As stated on the museum exhibition label, 1cIn keeping with the spontaneity of the design of such ceramics of Korea 19s past [Punch 19ong-ware], Choi Sungjae used his fingers to draw a picture of ducks swimming among reeds on this large vase. 1d -- Gift of Bernard and Suzanne Pucker in honor of Stephen Kuman, RO46208

  • Thumbnail for East Asian Ceramics:  Then and Now.  03,  Shino-ware Ewer
    East Asian Ceramics: Then and Now. 03, Shino-ware Ewer by unknown

    Shino-ware was associated with kilns of the Mino district, near Tajimi in Gifu prefecture, central Honshu, north of Nagoya and Seto. Shino-ware is characterized by its glaze, which is known simply as Shino. It is usually a thick white glaze with a soft lustrous surface, neither matte nor glossy, and a surprising sense of tactile softness to the touch. Often, on the rim or other ridges of a form, the color will break to a warm orangish color, hinting at a sense of the clay body under the glaze (or it may suggest other images, as with the rim of Mrs. Ota's tea bowl in the Kawabata novel, Thousand Cranes). It is a subtle and rich glaze, one much favored by masters of tea. Often, but not always, designs were painted on the surface of pieces before they were glazed. These patterns, painted with an iron slip or pigment, are partially obscured and softened by the glaze over them, creating both a quiet subtlety of design and a sense of depth to the glazed surface. -- An aside about this particular piece is the difference in color of the lid of the ewer and the body of the ewer, proper, suggesting that perhaps the pieces were fired apart from one another and that, even if they were immediately side by side in the kiln, the atmosphere in the kiln (the amount of smokiness or clarity of flame) was slightly different around each of the two pieces. A problem that will be recognized by all potters, today, just as then. -- Russell Tyson Purchase Fund Income, 1966.332

  • Thumbnail for Korean ceramics:  "Moon" Jar
    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.

  • Thumbnail for East Asian Ceramics:  Then and Now.  04, Shino-ware Jar by Rosanjin
    East Asian Ceramics: Then and Now. 04, Shino-ware Jar by Rosanjin by Kitaoji Rosanjin

    This Shino-ware jar was created by Rosanjin, a great Japanese ceramic artist of the first half of the 20th century. Rosanjin, a restaurateur by profession, was an "amateur" potter, who bagan making pottery because he could not find ceramic pieces that he felt were what he wanted to use in his restaurant. He often looked back to earlier traditions to find forms, glazes, techniques, and ideas from which to draw in his own modern work. In this piece, obviously, he has referred to the tradition of shino-ware with underglaze iron brush decoration. He has applied them to his own contemporary form, although it is interesting to note the undulations of the rim of the piece and to then look at the rims of many Momoyama and Edo period shino-ware tea ceremony bowls. The brown brushed design on this side of the piece are said to be stylized representations of pine trees; on the other side of the piece are forms suggesting birds. The orangish areas on the surface are areas where the glaze was