Stoneware bowl with underglaze copper-red decoration

From Korea
Koryo dynasty, early 12th century AD

A rare survival

Painting in iron-brown or copper-red under the celadon glaze was a Korean innovation, of which very few examples have survived. Although underglaze red was used in Chinese porcelain in the fourteenth century, and as early as the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906) on Changsha wares, it was never very successful because it was difficult to ensure a good colour: the copper often turned black during firing. Also, it was not generally used as profusely as here, more typically to pick out details in inlaid celadon ware and overall decoration.

This bowl is decorated with stylized flower scrolls. These scrolls are sometimes called Posanghwa or Precious Visage flowers and are a Buddhist motif. This bowl is a tea bowl and would have possibly been used by Buddhist monks during meditation. Buddhism reached Korea through China and many characteristics of Chinese Buddhism were adopted.

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Stoneware bowl with underglaze copper-red decoration

Side view

  • View of interior surface

    View of interior surface

  • View of underside decoration

    View of underside decoration


More information


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


Diameter: 17.800 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1938.5-24.763


Eumorfopoulos Collection


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