Korea’s plum vases - elegant and regal

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Korea’s plum vases - elegant and regal


Name: Maebyeong, a celadon vase with an incised lotus scroll design

Period: 12th century, Goryeo Dynasty

Location: National Museum of Korea, Fine Arts Gallery

Status: National Treasure No. 97

The elegance of Korean porcelain is highlighted in its maebyeong, or plum vases, which were often used to store wine. Maebyeong refers to a specific form of Goryeo celadon, or jade-green glaze, that features a small cup-like rim at the mouth of its characteristically curvaceous body. Here we see soft lotus veins delicately incised on the body, designed in such a way that their flowing movement works in harmony with the shape of the vase. The intaglio engraving technique was made using a steel-cutting tool called a burin, or cold chisel. Early maebyeong mostly featured plant designs, but animals, natural imagery and mythical beasts later became popular.

*The photos and text for Treasure Trove are provided by the National Museum of Korea. For more information, call (02) 2077-9000 or visit www.museum.go.kr.
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