Set of porcelain epitaph tablets

From Korea
Choson dynasty, around AD 1849

When a prominent person died in Korea, it was traditional to erect a tombstone and bury a set of plaques inscribed with an epitaph, words written in memory of the deceased. If for any reason the tombstone was removed or destroyed, the epitaphs would still remain. The number of plaques reflected the importance of the deceased.

During the Koryo dynasty (918-1392) black stone tablets were placed in front of the grave. In the Choson dynasty (1392-1910) the epitaph tablets were generally made of punchong and white porcelain.

These fourteen tablets are one of the largest sets known. The underglaze-painted blue calligraphy ('beautiful writing') records the life of Kim Chun-kun (1814-1847), a member of the Andong Kim clan. This clan was one of the three royal in-law families that dominated the authority of the Korean throne during the early nineteenth century. After his death, Kim Chun-kun was awarded the rank of Yong Wi-jing, or Minister of State.

As well as providing information about the deceased, epitaph tablets are also interesting to the scholar because they help to date developments in the techniques of ceramics manufacture.

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


Height: 9.000 cm
Width: 8.000 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1997.07-21.1-14


Purchased with the aid of the Hahn Kwang-ho Purchase Fund for Korean Art


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