Korean Ceramics Gallery (Goryeo Dynasty)

Celadon is the most notable ceramic ware of the Goryeo dynasty (918-1391). Although some aspects of the origin of Goryeo celadon still remains a mystery, it is generally considered that the techniques were imported from those of Chinese Yue ware by the beginning of the tenth century, which became the basis for subsequent development. The production of Goryeo celadon reached its peak by the first half of the twelfth century, achieving the lustrous kingfisher-color of the body. According to Gaoli Tujing (The Illustrated Report on Goryeo) written in 1123 by Xu Jing, a member of the Chinese delegation to the Goryeo capital Gaesong, celadon wares were called “kingfisher-colored” for their amazingly beautiful color and luster, esteemed higher than gilt or silver vessels. By mid-twelfth century, celadon with inlaid decoration, a distinctive technique of the Goryeo dynasty was achieved. A motif was carved or incised on a leather-hard clay body, into which red or white clay was filled and fired. The body was then covered with a celadon glaze and re-fired. The black-and-white inlay pattern under the clear celadon glaze renders a vivid and elegant taste. Such splendid works of celadon ware with a kingfisher-color glaze or inlaid decoration were produced chiefly in regions such as Kanjin, Chunranam-do and Buan, Chunrabuk-do. Various Goryeo celadons with different kinds of decorative techniques were produced during the twelfth-thirteenth centuries, including underglaze iron-brown painting, underglaze white-slip painting, underglaze copper-red painting, underglaze iron-brown slip coating and marbled clay body. Although few in number, white porcelain was also produced during this period. While celadon with inlaid decoration was mass-produced until the end of the fourteenth century, the quality gradually fell into a state of deterioration. The technique was succeeded by the buncheong ware of the Joseon dynasty.