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The art of ceramics in Korea: a heritage dating back thousands of years

The art of ceramics in Korea dates back to the Neolithic period, with traces of rudimentary pottery dating back to 8,000 BC. Over the centuries, techniques and styles have flourished, enriched by exchanges with neighbouring countries such as China and Japan, while retaining their own identity.

Bottle with handle in the shape of a double gourd, celadon-glazed ceramic, Korea, Koryo dynasty (918 - 1392), kept at the Musée Guimet in Paris

The golden age of Korean ceramics is undoubtedly the Goryeo period (918-1392). It was during this period that the celadon technique, a pottery with a brilliant green glaze, was perfected, becoming a timeless symbol of Korean art. The finesse of the decorations, often engraved or inlaid, and the purity of the forms make these pieces masterpieces of great beauty.

Maebyeong (plum bottle), celadon-glazed stoneware, Korea, 12th century, kept at the MET in New York

Korean ceramics are not limited to celadon. The Joseon period (1392-1910) saw the emergence of a variety of styles, such as Buncheong pottery with its slip-painted motifs and robust shapes, and Baekja white porcelain, distinguished by its simplicity, warmth and elegance.

Bottle with fish, Buncheong stoneware, Korea, 16th century, kept at the Los Angeles County Museum in Los Angeles.

Today, Korean ceramics is acclaimed as a major art form and is exhibited in the world's leading museums. In Korea, many institutions, such as the National Ceramics Museum in Gyeonggi and the National Ceramics Centre in Icheon, contribute to the preservation and promotion of this precious heritage.

Bowl, celadon-glazed ceramic, Korea, 19th century, appraised by Gauchet Art Asiatique for Couteau-Begarie, sold for €390

Among the treasures of Korean ceramics, "moon jars" occupy a special place. These large round white porcelain jars evoke the full moon and captivate the observer with their unique charm, born of the combination of subtle whiteness and imperfect roundness. They have become national icons, inspiring the shape of the bowl for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and fetching record prices at auction.

Moon jars, porcelain, Korea, 18th century, kept at the MET in New York.

Today, Korean ceramists continue to explore new techniques and create original works that are part of a dialogue between tradition and modernity. Korean ceramics is a journey through the history and culture of a country, an exploration of techniques and styles that have marked the centuries, and an invitation to contemplate the timeless beauty of an ancestral art.

Gauchet Art Asiatique, headed by Jean Gauchet, has played a crucial role in promoting and auctioning Korean ceramics. Their expertise and passion have made it possible to introduce this ancestral art to a wider public and to gain international recognition for it. Gauchet Art Asiatique is at your disposal to help you appraise and sell your Korean ceramics.

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