A Korean inlaid celadon flat-sided flask

高麗   象嵌青瓷开光牡丹菊花紋扁壺

This impressive flask is stoutly potted with a tall ovoid body flattened to front and back, supporting a low wide mouth with galleried rim. The flattened sides are decorated using inlaid black and white slips (sanggam technique) with large quatrefoil panels enclosing sprays of white- blossoming peonies and chrysanthemums, borne on dark stems. The narrower rounded sides of the vessel are decorated with pairs of cranes in flight among ranks of sinuous clouds. The shoulder and the base are both encircled with lotus lappets, those on the shoulder having a black outline. The glaze is grey-green in tone with a brownish cast in places from the firing. The base is unglazed with a very low footrim, showing the fine grey ware.

For a very similar vessel in the Collection of the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, see The Enduring Beauty of Celadon: A Special Exhibition of Goryeo Celadons, National Palace Museum, Taipei, pp.152-3, pl. w-09. Another flask with similar decoration, but slightly different shape is in a Japanese private collection, illustrated by Rhee Byung-chang, Masterpieces of Korean Art: Koryo Ceramics, p. 146, pl. 153; and another, in the Matsuoka Museum of Art, is illustrated in the museum’s catalogue, p. 91. No. 112.

Flasks of this form, resembling a typical maebyeong but flattened to front and back, are particularly Korean, having no parallel in Chinese ceramic art. The impetus behind the creation of such a distinctive form is not understood, but may be related to the general fashion at this time for flat- sided forms suitable for carrying on a saddle. Of course, the flat side, once formed, provides a fine area for decoration, as here.

Dimensions: Height: 27.1 cm, 10 ¾ inches

Date: Goryeo dynasty (918-1392), 13th/14th century

Stock No. 2160

Price: On Request