Bottle with flattened side

Period: late Unified Silla (676–935)–early Goryeo (918–1392)

Date: 9th or 10th century

Culture: Korea

Medium: Stoneware with accidental wood-ash glaze

Dimensions: H. 9 in. (22.9 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Purchase, Judith G. and F. Randall Smith Gift, 1994

Accession Number: 1994.226


The early rulers of Unified Silla, enjoying the peace and stability that accompanied their unification of the Korean peninsula, pursued extensive contacts with Japan as well as with the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907). In addition, the numerous Buddhist pilgrims who, seeking greater understanding of their faith, traveled by land and sea from Korea to China and India also brought to the peninsula a greater awareness of other cultures.
The response of Unified Silla potters to foreign influences can be seen in this flat-sided stoneware bottle of the eighth to tenth century. The vessel's form probably derives from the leather flasks used by nomadic tribes in the northern regions of the mainland; these flasks had slightly flared lips and flattened sides that facilitated their suspension from saddles. In contrast to the elaborately decorated funerary stoneware of the period, the surface of this vessel is unadorned, a characteristic of utilitarian stoneware containers in the Unified Silla and Koryō (918–1392) dynasties. The accidental splashes of ash glaze are the result of wood ash falling on the vessel during firing.