Jar, White Porcelain with Plum, Bamboo, and Bird Design in Cobalt-blue Underglaze

UnknownJoseon, Late 15th century~Early 16th century

National Museum of Korea

National Museum of Korea
Seoul, South Korea

The sumptuous, even ostentatious aesthetics of Chinese ceramics were reflected in the early blue and white porcelain ware of Korea, but over time, such showy designs became more modest, and thus more evocative of the atmosphere, culture, and taste of Joseon. The fine design on this jar exemplifies such case. While the central image of the birds resting amidst the plum blossoms is executed in strong, rich cobalt-blue underglaze, the designs on the lid, around the mouth, and near the foot are intentionally painted very light to maximize the realism and solidity of the overall design. Numerous masterpieces like this jar, which showcases superior artistic style and elegance, were created during the Joseon Dynasty, because the ceramics and the painting were done separately by highly trained and skilled artisans. First, a plain white porcelain piece was produced in one of the dynasty’s official kilns, and then the court painters would decorate it with a cobalt-blue underglaze. This jar demonstrates the distinguished skills of the painter, as the refined depiction of the bamboo, bird, and plum blossom truly epitomize Korean aesthetics and sensibility. The design almost seems like a painting that was made to purposefully avoid being highly patterned or stylized.


  • Title: Jar, White Porcelain with Plum, Bamboo, and Bird Design in Cobalt-blue Underglaze
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Joseon, Late 15th century~Early 16th century
  • Physical Dimensions: h16.5 cm
  • Original Title: 백자 매화 대나무 새무늬 항아리
  • Type: Ceramic
  • Rights: National Museum of Korea

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