Melon-shaped ewer with bamboo decoration

Period: Goryeo dynasty (918–1392)

Date: first half of the 12th century

Culture: Korea

Medium: Stoneware with carved and incised design under celadon glaze

Dimensions: H. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Roger G. Gerry, 1996

Accession Number: 1996.471


The graceful form, refined decoration, and lustrous blue-green glaze distinguish this ewer as one of the finest products of the Koryō celadon kilns at the peak of their production. The carved and incised decoration emulating the natural forms of melon and bamboo exemplify the Korean practice of drawing on nature for inspiration when working in clay.

This ewer, probably made to hold wine, originally may have been accompanied by a bowl-shaped basin, which, when filled with hot water, would have kept the contents of the ewer warm. Luxurious utilitarian celadon wares such as this example were favored by the aristocracy. Because they were from aristocratic families and had wealthy patrons, many Buddhist monks in the Koryō period also followed the practice of the nobility in using celadon ware.