Height: 15.500 cm
Asia OA 1936.10-12.289.a, b
Stoneware jar and lid
Unified Silla dynasty, 8th-9th century AD
Used to contain the ashes of the deceased
This jar was used to contain the cremated ashes of the dead. The concept of cremation of the dead body was first brought to Korea with Buddhism during the Unified Silla period (AD 668-935) when Buddhism was the official royal religion. The practice of cremation spread from Buddhist monks to the general population. Even today, Buddhists are cremated after death.
The jar has an intricate and regular stamp decoration that is characteristic of the pottery of the period. The lustrous surface on the shoulder of the jar is natural ash glaze, formed during firing in the kiln. It is though that potters began to exploit these accidents in order to make such glazes intentionally. They learned to mix wood and sand and apply this preparation to the pots before firing. Indeed, glazes applied to the whole body of the pot are evident on some funerary jars made late in the period.
The knop of the lid is in the form of a lotus, a Buddhist symbol of purity.
J. Portal, Korea - art and archaeology (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)