Melon-shaped celadon vase
Koryo dynasty (AD 918-1392)
Similar to one found in King Injong's tomb
The development of ch'ongja (celadon ware) during the Koryo dynasty is closely related to Son (Zen) Buddhism, which gained tremendous popularity during the late Unified Silla (AD 668-935) and early Koryo dynasty. Son Buddhism placed a strong emphasis on meditation through tea drinking, and it was believed that tea tasted better when drunk from a celadon bowl than from white porcelain.
Celadon ware was also very popular with the royal family and aristocracy. This vase is very similar to a vase excavated in the tomb of King Injong (reigned 1122-46); some of the finest celadon ware was produced during King Injong's reign. They usually have no decoration and are admired for their jade-like colour. The vase is also called 'melon-shaped' because its shape is close to a melon grown in Korea, called cham-wae. Fruit- and vegetable-shaped ceramics appealed to Korean taste.
J. Portal, Korea - art and archaeology (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
J. Portal, 'Korean celadons of the Koryo dynasty' in Pottery in the making (London, The British Museum Press, 1997), pp. 98-103
Asia OA 19188.8.131.52