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Round-Bottomed Jar with Straight Mouth

Korean

Artwork Details

Round-Bottomed Jar with Straight Mouth
5th century
Korean
unglazed stoneware with combed decoration
14 5/16 x 7 13/16 x 7 13/16 in. (36.2 x 19.8 x 19.8 cm)
Gift of Bruce and Inta Hasenkamp and Museum purchase made possible by Elder and Mrs. Sang-Yong Nam
2004/1.172

On Display

Not currently on display

Description

March 28, 2009
A close look reveals the skill and complexity of this jar, which is divided into three sections—body, shoulder, and neck—by sharp, angular changes to the outer contour. The body and shoulder sections both feature a band of wavy combed patterns. The neck section is decorated with two bands of wavy combed patterns between bands of raised lines. The potting and decoration are carefully controlled and precise. This pot would have been thrown on a fast wheel, probably by a skilled and experienced potter—an indication of a stratified society of elite consumers and specialized laborers that prevailed in each of the Three Kingdoms.
(Label for UMMA Korean Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject Matter:

Two types of stoneware jars were made in Silla. Short-necked jars were used to store grain or liquid, while long-necked jars, often with a pierced stand, were used for ceremonies and placed in the tomb with the dead. Burial chamber were filled with such pieces, which were meant to serve the dead in the afterlife. A great deal of our understanding about the material culture of Silla comes from such burial goods.
Archaeological evidence indicates that this ceramic type was first developed in the Kaya region, and subsequently adopted in Silla. While earlier coil-built pottery was uneven and restricted in form, the Kaya-Silla wares were thrown on a fast wheel giving them thin, and even walls. They were fired at high temperature (about 800°C), in efficient, large single-chambered kilns, which made them tough and non-porous.
During the firing process, ash from the burning wood would sometimes melt onto the clay body, forming a natural glaze. Korean potters soon took advantage of this and would regularly shake the firewood to encourage the ash to disperse and fall onto the body of the pot. Many long-necked jars show traces of this natural glaze.

Physical Description:

A sturdy, well-potted stoneware jar, with a spherical bottom, a sharply angled shoulder, and a wide slightly flaring mouth. The decoration consists of four bands of combed wavy lines: one at the waist, one at the shoulder, and two on the neck. The neck bands are bordered by three ridges, a double ridge topmost.

This is a blue-gray, long-necked, high-fired stoneware jar with a round bottom. A horizontal ridge marks the boundary between the jar’s round body and its neck. The steeply rising neck is divided into three sections by a set of two horizontal ridges on the upper part and a single horizontal ridge on the lower part. The central and lower parts of the neck have been decorated using a six-tooth comb to create a wave design. The upper body and the inner and outer surfaces of the neck retain traces of rough rotation and water smoothing. The upper part of the body slopes inwards at an angle sharp enough to form an edge. The surface above and below this edge are decorated with wave designs. The base retains wedgeshaped traces of clay supports in three places. The vessel is well-fired overall but also features bubbles and blemishes produced during firing.

[Korean Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (2017) p. 48]

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