Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Golden Eye

[Click to enlarge. 16th-century porcelain tea bowl. Korean. 
Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1905.28. Freer and Sackler Galleries.]

Damaged goods never looked so beautiful. It's likely that this Asian bowl became even more luminous after the Japanese employed their favored technique of ornamentally repairing cracks or nicks with gold lacquer. According to the Freer and Sackler Galleries in D.C., this roughly 460-year-old provincial ceramic piece made by a Korean craftsman was highly collectable in Japan. When used for tea the clay became discolored but the Japanese appreciated this mottled appearance -- this natural patina -- and as the bowl became more time-worn they highlighted its bumps and bruises by gilding them.

To see some gorgeous examples of Korean ceramics with textile-like surface pattern, visit the Freer's new exhibition, Cranes and Clouds: The Korean Art of Ceramic Inlay. As it happens, this month the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Loads of related events are planned the week of November 28. Learn more here.


Emile de Bruijn said...

As you say, that bowl is a wonderful combination of accidental and deliberate imperfections. Also we need to imagine it filled with bright green matcha, echoing the greenery of the small garden outside, with some incense in the air and the steam gently whistling through the lid of the water kettle ... :)

Style Court said...

Emile -- so poetic for a Monday :) I really can picture that shade of green with this muted bowl. Gorgeous.