Celadon tea bowl

From Korea
Koryo dynasty, 12th century AD

For a superior taste

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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More information

Bibliography

J. Portal, Korea - art and archaeology (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)

Dimensions

Diameter: 20.100 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1973.7-26.394

RRC15250

Bequeathed by Mrs B.Z. Seligman

Location

Find in the collection online



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