DATE: 918-1392 (made)
PLACE: Korea (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Stoneware with celadon glaze

Tea-drinking emerged in Korea during the late Silla Dynasty (57 B.C.-A.D. 668), when Korean scholars studying Buddhism in China were first introduced to the brew. Due to its close association to Buddhist thought, Koreans also regarded tea as a contemplative beverage and as a stimulating aid to meditation. By the 13th century, tea-drinking had spread to all members of Korean society and was drunk at special occasions, or gifted in ritual offerings to honour ancestors, deities and natural spirits. It was also during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) that Korean pottery production shifted towards particularly refined celadon wares. Similarly high-fired grey stoneware was produced in the Korean peninsula from the 1st century CE, but the technical expertise on kiln structure and glaze formulas acquired from Chinese potters in the 10th century enabled Korean celadon ware to flourish.

This teapot’s translucent celadon glaze was achieved through experimentation with the right amount of iron oxide (which produces the pale green surface colour), high kiln temperatures, and a reduced amount of oxygen during the firing process. Korean potters often used natural motifs such as peonies, lotus blossoms and gourds as ornament, although this example modelled as a pumpkin is a rarer form.