May 27, 2015 - Jan 30, 2016

White Porcelain in the Joseon Dynasty

Ewha Womans University Museum

Special Exhibition of Ewha Womans University Museum's 80th Anniversary

White Porcelain Production led by the Joseon Royal Court
The production of white porcelain in Korea can be traced back to around the 10th century in the Goryeo Dynasty, but the full-fledged manufacturing of high-quality white porcelain began following the establishment of Bunwon—royal kilns in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province in the late 15th century—which was an affiliated organization of saongwon. Saongwon was responsible for all tasks related to the provision of meals for kings and cuisines used for court banquets, while bunwon was engaged in producing white porcelains under the direct supervision of the royal court until the late 19th century. The Joseon Dynasty’s royal court established production standards for crafts to produce high-quality, sophisticated handicrafts, making great effort to put the related systems and policies in place. Pure white porcelain enjoyed its peak days throughout the Joseon Dynasty as austerity was worshiped as the core spirit of courtesy and edification at the time, with Confucianism installed as state ideology.

Detail of the jar

The other side of the jar 1

The other side of the jar 2

Literary Culture in Vogue
With the Joseon Dynasty led by sadaebu, a bureaucratic group consisting of scholar-officials, the white porcelains this group chose as their vessels reflect the values and aesthetics of the literary men. The development of Neo-Confucianism at the time triggered the trend of studying the principles of matters and giving specific meanings to subject matters by adding cultural implications to their intrinsic symbols. This trend led to the popularity of pine, bamboo, plum blossoms, orchid and chrysanthemum. Also, poems and verses favored by scholars served as good subject matter for white ware, while ideal landscapes painted in vessels revealed the refined taste of the literati. With the prevailing trend of collecting antique paintings and calligraphy in late Joseon, ceramics were widely recognized as objects of appreciation and as collectibles. Due to the social atmosphere of admitting a dainty attitude, especially in stationery, a variety of a scholar’s equipment made of white porcelain gained popularity.

Detail of the jar

The poems are written, side by side, as follows: “Careful in speech, yet enough to reveal the entire world, and follow murkiness and clearness from time to time. Its emptiness may allow it to fill all things, and its whiteness in quality may reveal its nature.”

Bottom of the Brush Washer

White Porcelain in the Joseon Dynasty
To commemorate Ewha Womans University Museum's 80th anniversary, the Museum is proud to present a special exhibition of its collection entitled “White Porcelain in the Joseon Dynasty.” In light of recent research discoveries and trends, this spring exhibition aims to display the variety and dynamicity of Joseon white porcelains, the dynasty’s most demanded and widely manufactured ceramics, in a collection not confined to styles and times. Throughout the exhibition halls on the first and second floors, the Museum features 000 pieces of Joseon white porcelains, including National Treasure No. 107 – the White Porcelain Jar with Grapevine Design in Underglaze Iron, along with the relevant materials excavated at kiln sites. We cordially request the honor of your attendance at the exhibition celebrating the Museum's 80-year journey.
Ewha womans university museum
Credits: Story

Organized by Ewha Womans University Museum

Directed by Jang Namwon

Curated by Kim Joo-Yeon, Kim Tae Eun, Moon Kiyoon, Park Ki Hee, Song Inhee, Shin Il-ji, Lee Jeong-Sun, Chang Mi, Jang Hyo-Jin, Hwang I-sook

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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