Oriental Pottery And Porcelain - Korea

Korea is situated to the north of China, and is a peninsula adjoining Manchuria and pointing south towards Japan. The pottery and porcelain made there has strong characteristics of its own both in shape and decoration. The finest wares were made in the Koryu period which lasted from A.D. 936 to 1392, and was roughly contemporary with the Sung period in China. In the following Yi period, the making of many of the earlier types of wares continued.

The most typical Koryu pieces are of a hard stoneware with a celadon glaze. Decoration took various forms: incising under the glaze is common, but the most interesting is the use of inlay. The pattern was cut into the article with a tool, and the incisions filled with black or white clay. The Koreans were very skilled at this work, and it is possible that they were the first to perfect it.

Distinctive features of many of the Korean celadons are that where the bare clay is exposed it shows a red colour, and usually the low footring and convex base is glazed all over. Most bases show also three or more small marks where they have stood on 'stilts' in the kiln; the 'stilts' being used to prevent the melted glaze from sticking to the floor or to any other piece being fired.

To many Western eyes Korean wares have a refreshing and attractive character that reveals no trace at all of the European influences so common in Chinese pieces. Apart from the celadons, little is known about other types of ware found in both Korea and China, and which may have originated in either country.

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