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[TREASURE] Buncheong jar used for umbilical cord storage

Jan 03,2020
Name: Buncheong placenta jar with stamped design

Period: Joseon

Location: Seongbuk District, central Seoul

Status: National Treasure No. 177

These two lidded jars come in a pair, with the smaller jar designed to fit into the larger one. The smaller one has a height of 26.5 centimeters (10.4 inches), mouth diameter of 9 centimeters and base diameter of 9.5 centimeters. The bigger one has a height of 42.8 centimeters in height, mouth diameter of 26.5 centimeters and base diameter of 27.6 centimeters.

When these jars were excavated, two-thirds of the bigger jar was filled with clay. The smaller one was wrapped with straw and placed inside the larger, outer jar. Additionally, a rotten umbilical cord wrapped in a piece of unknown material and two old brass coins were found in the inner jar.

There are lotus flower patterns in the shape of a belt on the lower part of the larger, outer jar. On the cover of the inner jar is a hexagon pattern in the shape of a tortoise.

These jars are regarded as buncheong (celadon) masterpieces, which were primarily produced in the mid-15th century. This type of jar was used particularly for storing an umbilical cord, an ancient tradition of Korea that was practiced in order to supplicate for the health and well-being of the new born. A tombstone near the excavation site is inscribed with a description of the death of both the mother and newborn baby.


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