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Roof Tile


Artwork Details

Roof Tile
5 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 7/8 in. (13.2 x 13.2 x 2.1 cm);1 1/4 in. (3.18 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


Subject Matter:

Ceramic roof tiles have been made for thousands of years in Korea. To make a strong, beautiful tile, one must find an excellent source of clay. Soil with the perfect mixture of clay and sand can be found in rice paddies. Although the ideal time to make the tiles is the spring, tilemakers head to the rice fields after the autumn harvest to search for the best clay, which then gets stored in pits through the winter. As the weather becomes warmer, the artisans take the clay out of storage and start kneading it, repeatedly pressing with their hands or feet until all air bubbles, tiny stones, and other debris are removed. Kneading the clay is time-consuming and physically exhausting work.
When the clay is smooth and free from impurities, it is sliced into smaller pieces with a wire cutter and pressed into wooden molds to form the desired shapes. The tiles are dried in the sun, and then fired in an evenly heated kiln. The advanced firing techniques of early Korean tilemakers create the unique color of the tiles. Today in Korea, most roof tiles are mass-produced in factories using modern techniques. However, traditional Korean tiles made by hand in the ancient way continue to be more durable, are impervious to weather, and do not easily crack.

Physical Description:

This lotus medallion design on this round tile-end consists of eight petals. The outer rim is decorated with eighteen round dents. The seedpod contains six peripheral seeds.

This gray, high-fired earthenware convex eave-end roof tile features a single-tier lotus design. It is made from fine clay mixed with a small amount of sand and is robust in appearance. The central ovary and petals of the lotus stand out in relief. The rim displays a “pearl-dot” (yeonju ) motif depicted in intaglio.
[Korean Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (2017) p.36]

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