Exhibitions of Loaned Artifacts / S201
Goryeo celadon is the most representative ceramic ware produced in the Korean Peninsula during the Goryeo period (918-1392). The kilns were mainly located in South Korea’s Kangjin-gun, Chunranam-do and Buan-gun, Chunrabuk-do today. These regions witnessed the development of a significant number of kilns and their products. Monochrome works dominated the manufacture between the 10th and 12th centuries. Such precious wares found in the royal tomb of Emperor Shengzong of Liao (982-1031) point to the circulation of Goryeo celadon and the possible time of entering China.
Gaoli Tujing (Illustrated Text of the Xuanhe Emissary to Korea), written by Xu Jing (1091-1153)—a Chinese envoy who was ispatched to the Goryeo empire when Northern Song China was under the reign of Emperor Huizong (1100-1125)—gave a very high opinion of Goryeo celadon and particularly noted the celadon’s “kingfisher color” (bisaek)—a translucent grayish-green, jade-like color. The naturalism reflected on Goryeo celadon has been likened to China’s Ru ware, the color of which is said to resemble the “clear sky after rain.”
In addition to glazing, the precious Korean ware also incorporated various decorative techniques such as incision (intaglio), relievo (relief decoration), carving, openwork, inlay and underglaze painting with iron or copper. Such sensuous and whimsical decorations reflect the natural elements in arts during the Goryeo period. Korean potters developed unique techniques that reflected native tastes, in particular inlaid (sanggam) decoration. Inlaid celadon dominated the production of Goryeo celadon in the 13th and 14th centuries. The precious ware was once praised as “the best under heaven” by a Chinese intellectual.
The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, Japan, well-known for its Goryeo celadon collection, lent a selection of some two hundred pieces to celebrate the grand opening of the Asian Arts and Culture Museum, Southern Branch of National Palace Museum. The curator of the exhibition has specially arranged for these Goryeo wares to be displayed along with the Ru celadon collection of National Palace Museum. Highlighting the high praise of celadon wares in Northern Song China and Goryeo Korea, the exhibition shows the contrast between Goryeo and Ru celadons. The grand event offers a precious opportunity for visitors to appreciate the beauty of these fine celadon works.