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Dragon Jar

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, South, 2nd floor
By the seventeenth century, porcelain had overtaken stoneware as the ceramic of choice for wealthy Koreans and underglaze brown—once favored for decoration of Buncheong stonewares—enjoyed a brief revival, this time on porcelain vessels. These large, bulbous storage jars were formed by joining two bowls, one inverted on top of the other. The swelling surfaces of the jars give dimension and energy to curvilinear forms, as seen in particular in the swirl of the highly abstracted dragon.
MEDIUM Porcelain with iron-painted decoration under clear glaze
  • Place Made: Korea
  • DATES mid 17th century
    DYNASTY Joseon Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS overall: 12 11/16 x 14 9/16 in. (32.2 x 37 cm) Height: 12 11/16 in. (32.2 cm) Diameter: 14 9/16 in. (37 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, South, 2nd floor
    EXHIBITIONS
    ACCESSION NUMBER 86.139
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Asian Art Council
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Dragon Jar, mid 17th century. Porcelain with iron-painted decoration under clear glaze, overall: 12 11/16 x 14 9/16 in. (32.2 x 37 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Asian Art Council, 86.139. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 86.139_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 86.139_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    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.
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