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


These rectangular epitaph tablets commemorate the life of O Myeong-hang (1673–1728), a scholar-official and calligrapher who served under several Joseon kings and eventually attained the position of state councilor. An important historical document, the set provides insight into the mortuary practices of the neo-Confucian society of eighteenth-century Korea, when epitaphs chronicling the life and achievements of the deceased were written on stone or ceramic tablets and placed inside graves. The tablets also offer valuable information on the manufacture of porcelain and the art of calligraphy. The text is in Chinese characters, the written language of choice for most official documents—especially for the literati—even after the invention of the Korean alphabet (Hangeul) nearly three hundred years earlier.