Epitaph tablets (Myoji), set of thirty-four

Period: Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)

Date: dated 1736

Culture: Korea

Medium: Porcelain with underglaze cobalt-blue design

Dimensions: Each: H. 9 7/8 in. (25.1 cm); W. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of The Honorable Joseph P. Carroll and Mrs. Carroll, to commemorate the opening of the Arts of Korea Gallery, 1998

Accession Number: 1998.486.1–.34


An epitaph (myoji) chronicling the life and achievements of the deceased was written on tablets made of stone or ceramic and placed inside the grave. The tablets varied in number, depending on the importance of the person eulogized. These rectangular epitaph tablets from a set of thirty-four commemorate the life of O Myōng-hang (1673–1728), an exemplary scholar-official and accomplished calligrapher who served under several kings of the Chosōn dynasty and eventually attained the position of state councilor, the highest ranking government office. Each plaque, except for the first and last, is inscribed with six vertical lines of text in standard (haesō) script.

An important historical document, this set of epitaph tablets provides insight into the political system and mortuary practices of the Neo-Confucian society of eighteenth-century Korea. These tablets also offer valuable information on porcelain manufacture and the art of calligraphy.