White Porcelain Jar with Plum Blossom and Bamboo Design Painted in Underglaze Cobalt-Blue

UnknownJoseon Dynasty, 15th century

Horim Museum

Horim Museum
Seoul, South Korea

This jar has an everted mouth and is widest at the shoulder, the body tapering gradually towards the bottom. The cover has a knob in the shape of a lotus bud, which is mounted above the flat surface of the lid and rises up into a point. The whole vessel is covered in glaze, except the foot and the underside of the base. The clay body is milky white and the glaze is clear and translucent with a slight bluish tint. The marks left on the foot indicate that the jar was fired on fine sand supports. The base has a crack that appeared during the firing process.
The design on this jar was painted with cobalt pigment, but the color is somewhat muddy and light in shade. The knob is decorated with a lotus to give it the appearance of a lotus bud and is surrounded by a lotus pattern band, which in turn is surrounded by seven large dots. The side of the lid is marked with lines running round the top and bottom and contained between the lines are 14 dots.
The body of the jar also bears a band of lotus petals around the top and the bottom, creating a large pattern section in the middle, which is filled with a plum blossom and bamboo design painted in cobalt-blue. Like a painting on paper, the brushwork is finely done, showing light and shade and painterly expression. There is only one main design and the rest of the surface is left blank.
Judging by the clean form and the artistic skill and painterly expression of the plum blossom and bamboo, this jar is likely to be a product of the Bunwon kiln.
Among the blue-and-white porcelain wares of the mid-Joseon period it is a nicely balanced, stable looking vessel. It is an exquisite work with the design well distributed, even over the lid, and expressed in a painterly manner with just the right amount of empty space. In particular, in the sophistication of the main design contrasting with the simplicity of the pattern bands, and the subject of the designs, this work gives a glimpse at the culture of the early Joseon nobility.


  • Title: White Porcelain Jar with Plum Blossom and Bamboo Design Painted in Underglaze Cobalt-Blue
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: Joseon Dynasty, 15th century
  • Physical Dimensions: h29.2 cm
  • Provenance: Horim Museum
  • Type: Porcelain

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