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Vase (Maebyeong)

Artist/maker unknown, Korean

Made in Korea, Asia

12th century

Porcellaneous stoneware with incised decoration under celadon glaze

16 x 9 1/2 inches (40.6 x 24.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Fiske Kimball Fund and the Marie Kimball Fund, 1974

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One of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s most treasured pieces, this vase is a supreme example of the understated elegance of celadon-glazed stoneware made during the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392). The skillfully incised designs include flowering lotus, mallow, herons, scrolled leaves, and magical fungi of eternity.

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

    With its small mouth and broad-shouldered body tapering at the foot, this elegant, harmonious vessel is known as a maebyong, or "plum vase," for the flowering plum branches it was designed to hold. The soft, lustrous blue-green of the celadon glaze is typical of the finest ceramics of the Koryò dynasty, and this vase, the largest of its type to survive, must have been made under royal patronage. This masterpiece of the Korean potter's art, with a delicately incised underglaze design of herons amid mallow and lotus blossoms, once belonged to the American financier J. P. Morgan, in whose catalogue it is listed as of Chinese origin. However, although the celadon glaze technique was introduced from China, the vase was undoubtedly made in Korea, probably in the southern part of the peninsula, where the major kilns for pottery production were located. Felice Fischer, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 36.

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