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Maebyeong (Wine Storage Bottle)


Artwork Details

Maebyeong (Wine Storage Bottle)
stoneware with natural ash glaze
11 15/16 x 4 3/16 x 4 3/16 in. (30.2 x 10.5 x 10.5 cm)
Gift of Bruce and Inta Hasenkamp and Museum purchase made possible by Elder and Mrs. Sang-Yong Nam

On Display

Not currently on display


Maebyong is the Korean pronunciation for the Chinese meiping, which literally means “plum bottle.” In fact, vessels of this shape, with a small mouth, broad convex shoulders, and a concave lower body, were used in both China and Korea as containers for wine, vinegar, or other liquids. The maebyong is one of the most popular shapes in Goryeo ceramics. This dark gray example shows the persistence of unglazed stonewares after the Unified Silla period.
Maribeth Graybill, The Enduring Art of the Korean Potter, December 12, 2004-November 6, 2005

Subject Matter:

A maebyeong is a vessel with a small mouth, short neck, round shoulder, and constricted waist. The form is derived from the Chinese meiping, or "prunus vase." The Goryeo maebyeong is distinguished from its Chinese counterpart by a saucer-shaped mouth and a body that forms a pronounced S-shaped curve, resulting in a slightly flared base. A few of these vessels in China and Korea have retained a cup-shaped cover over the mouth, suggesting that they were used to store wine.

Physical Description:

This Maebyeong is wide at the shoulder and gradually narrow down to the base. The neck is a little long and body is high.

This is a dark gray, high-fired stoneware maebyeong (prunus vase). The saucer-shaped vessel mouth is joined to a short, flared neck. The body extends downwards in a straight line from the shoulder before flaring slightly near the base. Its wall is not smoothed leaving it uneven. The shoulder has become contaminated by impurities during firing, and the center of the base is slightly recessed.

[Korean Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (2017) p. 84]


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