White porcelain storage jar in underglaze iron


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

White porcelain was the dominant type of ceramic in Korea throughout the Choson period (1392-1910). At first, decoration was commonly executed in underglaze painting using blue cobalt. However, the Japanese invasions of 1592 and 1597, which devastated Korean porcelain production and the economy in general, meant that the expensive cobalt was no longer imported. The potters turned to the use of underglaze iron. This innovation also led to a change in design. Iron had to be painted on quickly or it would be absorbed by the clay body. The intricate designs painted in cobalt blue were replaced with more lively, playful designs, as shown on this storage jar.The jar is decorated with stylized orchids, a feature commonly associated with the scholar-literati particularly esteemed by the Confucianist state.


  • Title: White porcelain storage jar in underglaze iron
  • Date Created: 1500/1699
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 9.75in
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: glazed
  • Subject: leaf
  • Registration number: 1957,0514.1
  • Place: Found/Acquired Korea
  • Material: stoneware
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Malcolm, K R

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