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Cylindrical Bottle, Celadon with Willow Design and Iron-brown Underglaze

UnknownGoryeo, 12th century

National Museum of Korea

National Museum of Korea

Two of the most common classifications of celadon are pure (i.e., undecorated) celadon and celadon with inlaid designs. But celadon decorated with iron-brown underglaze warrants equal consideration with these other two categories. However, as compared to those two types, iron-brown underglaze celadon developed in a unique way, in terms of the form, glaze color, and design.
This bottle, with its unique form and design, is celebrated as a masterpiece of celadon ware with iron-brown underglaze. The neck and upper body resemble a maebyeong, yet the line remains slender, straight, and trim. The shape is cylindrical, but the top edge is slightly angled, creating a softened form that is much more refined than a geometric cylinder. Also, the ratio between the height and the circumference of the bottle is ideal.
Most celadon ware with iron-brown underglaze has designs painted over the entire surface, but this bottle has only two simple willow trees painted on either side. Interestingly, the roots and trunk of the two trees differ slightly from one another. Unlike the busy, expansive designs of most iron-brown underglaze celadon, the willows here are rather sparse and widely spaced, yielding a simple aesthetic dignity and grace. The glaze is primarily a tannish hue, due to “oxidation firing” (where oxygen is allowed to interact with the glaze during firing), but areas of mild blue can also be seen on both sides of the bottle. This blue color is a fluke that occurred inside the kiln during firing, but it definitely augments the stellar beauty of the bottle.

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  • Title: Cylindrical Bottle, Celadon with Willow Design and Iron-brown Underglaze
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Goryeo, 12th century
  • Physical Dimensions: h31.4 cm
  • Original Title: 청자 버드나무무늬 병
  • Type: Ceramic
  • Rights: national museum of korea

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