Saturday, October 17, 2009

Koryo Dynasty Buddhist Kundika

8. Korea, Koryo period, late 12-early 13th c. Buddhist ritual sprinkler (kundika). Stoneware with white slip inlay under celadon glaze. H. 35.8 W 14.4 D 13.0 cm.

This vessel, used for sprinkling sacred water during Buddhist ceremonies, illustrates the effectiveness of inlay for pictorial decoration on ceramics. Black and white inlays within incised motifs (sanggam technique) portray a tranquil scene in which a willow tree stands alongside a lotus pond. Similar landscapes appear on bronze ritual sprinklers inlaid with silver wire. This piece was made at the Puan kiln complex in southwestern Korea.

Many celadons were produced for Buddhist rituals—the shapes are based on metal originals. The Kundika—water sprinkler, a shape originally from India—traveled along silk route to China and Korea. Bowl sets for hand washing, incense burners, many in animal shapes were also produced for Buddhist monasteries. The wares travelled by boat from kilns in the south-west to the capital at Songdo, modern day Kaesong. Recent excavations of shipwrecks in area show volume of celadon production.
The technique known as sanggam developed in the second half 12th c.Carved, incised decoration is inlaid with another colour of slip. The technique derives from metal and lacquer ware—inlaying gold, silver into bronze, mother-of-pearl into lacquer. Designs of clouds, flowers, grapes etc. were carved into leather-hard forms. They were then painted with the inlay material, allowed to harden, and then the excess was scraped off excess to reveal design. The works were then glazed and fired. The inlay not strictly clay; it consisted of crushed quartz for white and iron-rich material for black.

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