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Dragon Jar

Artist/maker unknown, Korean

Made in Korea, Asia

18th century

Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue decoration

16 1/8 x 14 7/8 inches (41 x 37.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with Museum funds, 1950

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“Dragon jars,” named after their dragon decorations, were made for ceremonial use during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). In Korea, dragons are believed to bring good fortune to those they favor; they also symbolize the authority of the ruler and the balance in nature.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    A pair of dragons encircle this robust jar, the swirling curves of their torsos swelling along the contours of its slightly asymmetrical ceramic surface. In Korea as in China, the dragon was an auspicious creature, a symbol of the authority and beneficence of the ruler. Traces of the Chinese origins of the motifs on this jar can be seen in the formal bands of ornament around the neck, but the sophisticated yet free brushwork used to paint the dragon has a vitality and dynamism that are hallmarks of Korean art. Because in eighteenth-century Korea cobalt was a luxury item imported from the Middle East, its use for decorating porcelain was restricted to items produced for members of the ruling class. Felice Fischer, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 38.

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