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moon jar

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Glazed white porcelain 'full moon' jar.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 18thC
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 47 centimetres
    • Diameter: 44.5 centimetres (Widest Point)
    • Diameter: 19 centimetres (mouth)
    • Diameter: 16.7 centimetres (foot)
  • Curator's comments

    Portal 2000:
    It was in great part due to the interest of Japanese Folk Crafts scholars such as Yanagi Soetsu, Kawai Kanjiro and Hamada Shoji that appreciation, particularly of Korean ceramics, developed in the West during the first half of the twentieth century. Bernard Leach, who lived and worked in Japan for many years and also travelled to Korea, was part of this group and very influential in educating Western taste. He admired Korean pots for their natural unselfconciousness and he is known to have collected Korean ceramics and furniture, including this particularly beautiful piece of white porcelain, which he acquired in Korea in 1935 and gave to the potter Lucie Rie in 1943. She kept it in her studio until her death.
    Yanagi Soetsu talks of the freedom found in Korean pots, compared to Japanese ones: "In modern art, as everyone knows, the beauty of deformity is very often emphasised, insisted upon. But how different is Korean deformity. The former is produced deliberately, the latter naturally. Korean work is merely the natural result of the artisan's state of mind, which is free from dualistic man-made rules... Here lies buried the mystery of the endless beauty of the Korean artisan's work. He simply makes what he wants, without pretension".2016 National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage catalogue entries:

    'This large porcelain jar has a voluminous and globular body, evoking images of a full moon and thus today jars of this type are called “moon jars.” The jar is 47 centimeters in height, relatively large among the remaining moon jars. A discernible horizontal seam at the center of the body indicate that two bowlshaped halves were joined together to make the jar. As a form composed of two large halves, the jars would shrink and sag in the firing which resulted in each jar having a unique, asymmetrical shape. The popularity of this form in the 17th and 18th centuries attests to a Joseon aesthetic sensibility that appreciated naturalism and spontaneity over rigid perfection. Clear, pale white glaze is applied over the surface of the jar, showing a sense of age with the crackles and scratches on it. The shoulder of the jar partially has traces of ash, adhered during firing in a kiln. The foot was roughly and deeply carved at the base, and the foot ring and the base was wiped clear of the glaze.'

    '어깨부터 풍만한 곡선을 그리는 백자 항아리로 크고 둥근 달을 닮았다고 하여 ‘달항아리’라고 불리기도 한다. 이 백자대호는 높이가 47cm로, 남아 있는 백자 달항아리 중에서도 대형에 속한다. 조선시대 대형 항아리는 위와 아래를 각각 제작한 후에 접합하는 방식이기 때문에 몸체 가운데에 접합선이 뚜렷하게 남아 있다. 크기가 크기 때문에 접합 과정이나 번조 시에 몸체 한쪽이 찌그러지거나 조금 내려앉아서 좌우의 대칭이 맞지 않는 경우가 많다. 백자대호의 이러한 비정형적인 조형성은 좌우 대칭의 완벽함보다는 자연스러움과 넉넉함을 추구했던 조선시대 백자의 이상적인 미감美感으로 통한다. 담청색의 백자 유약이 전면에 시유되어 있으며, 유면에 빙렬이 있고 사용 흔적이 남아 있다. 몸체 일부에는 번조 시에 가마에서 떨어진 이물질이 붙어 있다. 굽은 안바닥을 깊고 거칠게 깎아낸 수직의 다리굽이다. 굽의 접지면과 안바닥까지 유약을 닦아낸 흔적이 확인된다.'


  • Bibliography

    • Portal 1999 bibliographic details
    • Portal 2000 figure 8 bibliographic details
    • National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage 2016 p.17; Cat. 109; p.318, no.271 bibliographic details
    • 국립문화재연구소 2016 p.17; Cat. 109; p.318, no.271 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G67/dc14

  • Exhibition history

    20/09/07-22/10/07 BM, G3, 'The Korean Moon Jar'
    2010 Apr- Jun, Tokyo, National Art Centre, Lucie Rie: A Retrospective
    2010 - 2014 Nov, BM Galleries, Korea Foundation Gallery, Room 67
    2013 18 Jun - 17 Aug, 'Moon jar: contemporary translations in Britain', Korean Culturual Centre, UK
    2014 17 Dec - onwards, BM Galleries, Korea Foundation Gallery, Room 67

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number



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