< Back to collection


Dragon Jar

This jar is an outstanding example of a seventeenth-century Korean folk ceramic with iron-oxide decoration. Intended as a food or wine vessel, it served to protect its contents from evil spirits and to attract good fortune to its owner. The powerful dragon design conveys a sense of mystery through its spontaneous, eccentric, and amusing qualities. The dynamic shape of the vessel enhances the visual impact of the dragon.

Catalogue Description:
From "Korean Art Collection in the Brooklyn Museum" catalogue: The dragons that adorn seventeenth-century Joseon porcelain jars were conceived more as comical figures than the more traditional, sublime dragons that symbolized royalty. The political and economic instability of the period, caused by the Ming-Qing transition in China, affected the import of cobalt blue pigment from the continent, eventually leading Joseon potters to use iron oxide. The dragon decorating the surface of this jar has protruding round eyes and a wide-open mouth that suggest innocence and naiveté rather than furiousness. The limbless dragon, flying among the clouds, is depicted in an extremely simple manner with just a few strokes of the brush. There are a lot of impurities in the clay of the body, which is coated with a light gray glaze. It is a fine work of art that exhibits the distinctive characteristics of seventeenth century porcelain jars decorated with dragon designs in underglaze iron.


Brooklyn Museum Logo