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: A Group of Ceramics from the Far East


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
A small group of Far Eastern ceramics, a gift from Alfred F. Pillsbury now on view in gallery C-19, brings to the museum examples of several wares not before represented in the permanent collection.Included in the gift are five Chinese, six Korean, and eight Japanese bowls, tea bowls, incense burners, and vases. Two pottery figures, one of the god of longevity and one of the god of plenty, are also included in the group. Of these, the Korean examples, because they are least known to members, will be most interesting.The cultural position of Korea, lying as it does between China and Japan, has always been somewhat anomalous. As the receiver and transmitter of Chinese culture it never gave birth to any great artistic traditions of its own. Almost the only evidences remaining of ancient Korean art are potteries such as those presented by Mr. Pillsbury, and it is quite recently that even they have been definitely declared to be of Korean and not Chinese origin.The first attempt at scientific classification was made by Rackham in his catalogue of the LeBlond Collection, in which three large groups of Korean ware are listed: those indigenous to Korea, those probably imported from China, and those that are beyond question Chinese.Five of the pieces presented by Mr. Pillsbury belong to the first group. The sixth, a tea bowl, was probably imported from China. The native bowls have a hard porcellanous or a hard friable body covered with a grey-blue glaze that has a greenish cast. One is decorated with incised lines, the others with a mishima decoration that was typical of Korea. Mishima consists of an inlay of white or greenish clay under the glaze. It usually appears in some form of floral pattern, and adds great charm to the simple shapes and soft colors of Korean ware. The best examples of this native work date from the Koryu dynasty (936-1392), the great period of Korean civilization. The Institute's bowls are ascribed to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.Mishima decoration was taken over from Korea by the Japanese and used on some of their finest wares. Those in the Institute's new group date largely from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. One of the best of them is a bowl decorated inside and out with medallions and floral motifs, and covered with a soft blue-green glaze. Another interesting piece is a heavy double earthenware bowl, the outer wall pierced with a design of birds and swastikas. This has a thick greyish-green glaze.The Chinese pieces included in the new group date from the Sung to the Ch'ien Lung periods. Two Sung tea bowls are especially welcome to the museum, since this type of bowl has not, until now, been represented in the permanent collection. They are of Chien yao ware with the brownish-black glaze flecked with white that is sometimes known as hare's fur glaze.These and other examples presented by Mr. Pillsbury supplement admirably the existing collection, and will be of material assistance in a study of the evolution of Far Eastern ceramics. They will now be on permanent exhibition in the oriental section of the museum.Referenced Work of Art
  1. Korean and Japanese Bowls, XIV and XVII centuries
    Gift from Alfred F. Pillsbury
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Source: "A Group of Ceramics from the Far East," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 27, no. 29 (November, 1938): 149-150.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009