Goryeo celadon flat tea bowl with inlay

 [Designated Cultural Property of Yamagata Prefecture]

Goryeo~Joseon Dynasty (13C)

Goryeo celadon ware is typically characterized by the sanggam technique of inlaying, where patterns are engraved with a knife and covered with purple and white soil. Wiping the excess mud off reveals the carved pattern, which turns black and white after glazing and firing. This particular tea bowl is representative of such celadon ware.

The grayish-green glaze harmonises beautifully with the inlay, while the network of irregular cracks in the glaze gives the bowl a rustic yet elegant feel. Just below the rim are cloud cranes and flower motifs inlaid in black-and-white, and arabesque designs in white. On the lower part appears to be a double thunderbolt design circling the bowl. There are also large flower designs carved into the five directions around the ‘chadamari,’ a small depression at the bottom of the bowl where the tea left over from drinking pools.

This bowl is said to have been fired at a kiln in Ganjin County in South Korea, notable for the Gangjin Kiln Sites where traditional Goryeo celadon is produced. It was first handed down from the Maeda family of the Kaga domain to the Sakai family of the Shonai domain. The Homma family then acquired this tea bowl, and used it often when entertaining guests.