Sunday, April 7, 2013

Goryeo Celadon

Goryeo Celadon | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • The term celadon is thought to derive from the name of the hero in a seventeenth-century French pastoral comedy. The color of the character Céladon's robe evoked, in the minds of Europeans, the distinctive green-glazed ceramics from China, where celadon originated. Some scholars object to such an arbitrary and romanticized Western nomenclature. Yet the ambiguity of the term celadon effectively captures the myriad hues of greens and blues of this ceramic type. 

    During the nearly five centuries of the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392), celadon constituted the main type of ceramics produced on the Korean peninsula. This exquisite ware typically appears gray-green in hue. The color of Goryeo celadon owes much to the raw materials—specifically, the presence of iron in the clay and of iron oxide, manganese oxide, and quartz particles in the glaze—as well as to the firing conditions inside the kiln. Temperatures were commonly around, or below, 1150ºC, and the level of oxygen within the kiln was dramatically reduced at some stage of the firing; this is known as a reducing, rather than an oxidizing, atmosphere. Goryeo celadon ranges from a plain, undecorated type to objects with incised, carved, mold-impressed, or inlaid designs, and to vessels embellished with colorful compounds like iron oxide (black or brown) and copper oxide (red), and also with gold.


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