Stoneware jar with ox-horn shaped handles

From Silla, Korea
5th-6th century AD

For food storage

The kingdom of Silla was isolated in the south-east of the Korean peninsula, and had little interaction with other nations. It was the last of the 'Three Kingdoms' of Korea to develop, both politically and culturally. Silla's economy was based on agriculture. Jars like this were probably used as containers for grain. The jar's 'ox-horn' handles relate to this: oxen would have been used to plough the fields.

Such jars were not only used in daily life, but were also placed in stacks in tombs. It was believed that, in the afterlife, the tomb's occupant would be able to enjoy the luxuries contained in the jars. Most of the surviving jars from this period are relics excavated from tomb sites.

Silla invaded Kaya in the early sixth century, and absorbed its technological and cultural achievements, including pottery techniques. This jar, like most ceramics from Silla, is made of stoneware, fired at about 800°C. Stoneware is harder and less porous than earthenware, as it is fired at a higher temperature, enabling the clay body to adhere. It had not yet become common to use glaze, though traces of natural glaze can be seen on some Silla pottery.

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More information

Bibliography

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

Dimensions

Height: 26.000 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1994.5-21.9

RRC18404

Location

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