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 "punch'ong ware".

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 inheritance.

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.



Copyright 2000 ichontour All rights reserved. contact us