Celadon tea bowl


British Museum

British Museum

This celadon bowl was probably used as a tea bowl. Tea drinking became a popular activity during the late Unified Silla dynasty (AD 668-935) and early Koryo dynasty (918-1392), due to the influence of Son (Zen) Buddhism. This spread from Buddhist monks to the population in general. Son Buddhism placed a strong emphasis on meditation through tea drinking, and according to the Chinese connoisseur Lu Yu, in his Chajing ('Classic of Tea') of AD 760, tea tasted better from green-glazed tea bowls than from white porcelain.Celadon tea bowls were often decorated with Buddhist symbols, such as lotus flowers. However the designs were not always religious: here the fish and waves incised inside the bowl are secular symbols for prosperity and fertility.The gold lacquer repair was done in Japan where Koryo-period celadons have long been highly valued and collected.

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  • Title: Celadon tea bowl
  • Date Created: 1100/1199
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 20.10cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: incised; celadon-glazed
  • Subject: fish
  • Registration number: 1973,0726.394
  • Place: Found/Acquired Korea
  • Material: stoneware; gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Seligman, Brenda Zara