| In China, jade signifies the true
gentleman, wealth and honor.
It also has religious value, guaranteeing life after
death and warding off demons. Therefore jade was
popular for use in objects enclosed in tombs.
The ruling classes were eager to possess jade, and
to bury their parents with large amounts of it.
The jade available was too little for their needs,
and very expensive. Therefore artisans tried to
create jade from clay, and the result was the pottery
known in the West as Celadon, first produced in
China in the Three Kingdoms and the Warring Kingdoms
In Korea, Chinese celadon pottery has been found
in tombs dating from the 4-6th centuries, suggesting
that the royal family of the period imported celadon
from China as a substitute for jade.
| In 9th century China, the practice
of Zen Buddhism spread among the powerful families,
who considered that drinking tea helped clear the
mind while sitting in meditation. Celadon was used
to make the tea cups, and this seems to be the first
time that it was employed for vessels in ordinary
Tea was not simply a luxury for the rich, it offered
a way toward spiritual enlightenment. The cup used
for drinking tea was highly valued, some were worth
more than gold.
Zen Buddhism entered Korea toward the end of
the Unified Silla Dynasty, in the 8th century.
Monks returning from China brought Chinese tea-cups
to Korea. When the Koryo Dynasty came, Koreans
began to manufacture their own celadon vessels,
beginning in the later 10th century.
Research was undertaken in order to make even
better celadon, using the best clays, and the
celadon produced in the south- western area now
known as Cholla Province, near the towns of Kangjin
and Kochang, was particularly famed.
|At that time, the Buddhist visions
of Paradise were immensely popular and the pottery
of later Koryo times expresses the people's longing
for a symbolic world of Eternity, through such symbols
as clouds and cranes, or the lotus flower so central
to the world of Zen Buddhism, as well as willows,
and ducks playing in water. In a similar spirit,
wild chrysanthemums express calmness and solitude.
When these symbols took form on the surface of delicate
green jars and bowls, the result was some of the
most beautiful pottery in the world.