Fragments That Mattered: Korean Buncheong Ceramics from Mount Gyeryong

2017 One Asia Forum Talk Series with speaker Dr. Seung Yeon Sang (Harvard University Museum)

Event Details

Start: 26 October 2017 4:00 pm
End: 26 October 2017 6:00 pm
Venue: Room 604, Asian Centre


Korean buncheong ware is a distinctive type of grey-bodied stoneware embellished in various modes with white slip from the early Joseon period (1392-1910). In 1927, due to the discovery and excavation of kilns at Mount Gyeryong and the subsequent unearthing of buncheong wares from the site, interest in this type of ceramics notably increased, which has been famously dubbed as the “Mount Gyeryong Buncheong Boom.” In fact, the term, “buncheong,” was coined at this time to define the concept and characteristics of this group of ceramics. Prior to this, they were known by various Japanese names such as mishima (stamped and inlaid) and hakeme (slip-brushed), created by and specific to the circle of the Japanese tea elites. This talk examines how buncheong finds from the Mount Gyeryong site made their way to Harvard in 1928, and transformed from being battered and discarded to objects of academic study and empirical evidence. As this unique specimen group from Harvard’s collection demonstrates, archaeology brought the historical and cultural significance of buncheong ceramics to light in a new way.



Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Langdon Warner. Image © President and Fellows of Harvard College

About the speaker:

Seung Yeon Sang is the Henderson Curatorial Fellow in East Asian art at the Harvard Art Museums. She specializes in the arts of Korea and Japan, with a research focus on the practice of collecting and appreciating ceramics in Japanese tea culture. Her primary research interests are the history of ceramic production and trade in early modern Korea, the impact of Japan’s modern transformations on tea culture and art history, and the meaning and uses of the museum. Her doctoral dissertation examines the trajectory of ceramic scholarship in modern Japan from its emergence in the 1910s to the first pinnacle of its development in the 1920s.  She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution (Freer and Sackler Galleries of Art), and the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.