Timeless Korean Moon Jar


Universally admired for its luminous white porcelain surface, elegant, gravity-defying proportions, and charming idiosyncrasies, the evocatively named moon jar (dalhangari) epitomizes the nuanced, natural beauty acclaimed in Korean ceramics. Completely unique to Korea, moon jars were produced for a short amount of time during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) in the 17th and 18th centuries, likely for storage of grain or liquid. The jar’s deceptively simple form, plain surface, and striking materiality led to its “rediscovery” in the 20th century by art historians and artists alike. Indeed, the term “moon jar” is a modern moniker attributed to the Korean artist Kim Whan-ki (1913-1974), coined around the 1940s when Kim and other artists wrote lyrically about the vessel. In the Joseon period, it was simply referred to as a “large white ceramic jar” or “round jar” (wonho 圓壺).[1] From its humble beginnings as a utilitarian vessel, the moon jar has transcended geographic and cultural boundaries to become one of the most iconic and influential works of art in modern times, equally significant in the history of Korean ceramics, the development of modern studio pottery, and global art history.

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