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Roof Tile


Artwork Details

Roof Tile
5 5/16 x 5 5/16 x 7/8 in. (13.4 x 13.4 x 2.1 cm)
Gift of Bruce and Inta Hasenkamp and Museum purchase made possible by Elder and Mrs. Sang-Yong Nam


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:

The decoration of this tile-end consists of lotus medallion with eight petals in the center surrounded by eight heart-shaped bosanghwa(Buddhist floral pattern) just inside the rim. The rim is decorated with a chain of beads.

This yellowish gray, high-fired earthenware convex eaveend roof tile features an eight-petal lotus floral medallion design. It is made from fine clay and robust in appearance. The tile features a central two-tier, eight-petal lotus design, surrounded by a palmette (or bosanghwa ) design, consisting of eight heart-shaped petals, in low relief.

[Korean Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (2017) p. 40]


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