Height: 41.000 cm
Bequeathed by Mrs B.Z. Seligman
Asia OA 1940.12-14.313
Room 67: Korea
Stoneware maebyong vase
Koryo Dynasty, 12th century AD
Used to contain wine
The Koryo period (918-1392) is well known for its ch'ongja or celadon ware. Although it was influenced by various Chinese wares such as Ru, Ding and Yue, celadon ware has a very paticular bluish grey-green hue and sanggam inlay design that is unique to the Korean peninsula. The jade-like colour is thought to be the result of the iron oxide content (about 3-5%) in the glaze, fired in a sealed kiln with restricted oxygen. The colour was favoured by the Son (Zen) Buddhist monks, who preferred it to white porcelain.
The aristocracy dominated the Korean peninsula during the Koryo period, and celadons were particularly desirable objects at the extravangant court.
Wine bottles like this are known as maebyong, which comes from the Chinese mei-ping ('vase for plum blossoms'), a misnomer dubbed by Chinese scholars of the Qing dynasty. It would originally have had a lid.
J. Portal, Korea - art and archaeology (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)