|The stoneware pottery known in Korean
as "Punch'ong" is made by painting in
a white slip over a grayish-green glaze. It is unique
to Korea. In the 14th century Buddhism, with its
otherworldly focus on the life to come, gave way
to the practical this-worldly teachings of Confucianism.
The old celadon wares lost favor, since there was
a strong desire for novelty in a new religious atmosphere.
As society changed, pottery also changed and
grew plainer, better adapted for use in practical
life; at the same time, the patterns grew freer.
Techniques of expression were simplified and pottery
was produced in large quantities. The forms of
pottery became more popular and the result was
With its often humorous and entertaining images
and its free, unrestrained forms, informal and
true to nature, we find in this Punch'ong ware
some of the most original expressions of the Korean
sense of beauty. These works are found only in
Korea and form part of Korea's proud cultural
|The potters who produced these wonderful
works transmitted their skills from father to son,
spending a whole lifetime in poverty, unknown, they
produced pottery without any desire for personal
gain, content to be part of nature, one with nature.
The spirit in which they lived can be clearly seen
in the combination of beauty and simplicity that
marks their work.
The gentry of the period, searching for beauty
with an acute aesthetic sense, recognized the
true beauty of this form of Korean pottery. In
a similar spirit, the Japanese valued a good tea-cup
more even than honor or wealth, acknowledging
the mysterious power of pottery.
| The rough bowls produced by the potters
of the Choson dynasty (14th-20th centuries) were greatly
treasured by the Japanese.
When Japan invaded Korea in the 1590s, the Japanese called
the incident the "Pottery War" and at that time
they took many Korean potters back to Japan, where they
became the foundation of the Japanese pottery industry.
As a result, Punch'ong ware almost completely disappeared
from Korea, due to the lack of potters, the destruction
of kilns, and the changes in society. Instead, Koreans
turned to white pottery.