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Korean J Art Hist > Volume 302; 2019 > Article
Korean Journal of Art History 2019;302:125-145.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31065/ahak.302.302.201906.005    Published online June 30, 2019.
고려시대 ‘찬란한’ 금속공예: 보스턴미술관 소장 〈은제도금 주자와 승반〉
신 숙
한국전통문화대학교 초빙교수
The Splendid Metalwork of Goryeo - Silver-gilt Ewer and Basin at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston -
Suk Shin
Visiting Professor, Korea National University of Cultural Heritage
Received: 3 March 2019   • Revised: 6 April 2019   • Accepted: 15 April 2019
This set of a silver-gilt ewer and basin was presumably discovered in a royal tomb near Kaesong during the Japanese colonial period. It was purchased from Yamanaka & Co. Ltd in 1935 by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (hereafter, MFA). Ewers were invented as a container to facilitate the serving of liquor compared to ladling it from a jar. Basins functioned as a support for ewers while keeping the liquid inside warm. The practice of using a ewer and basin as a set began in Five Dynasties China and became increasingly popular during the Song Dynasty. In Korea, basins were frequently paired with a ewer starting in the Goryeo Dynasty. However, the function of keeping the ewer warm gradually declined, and basins eventually became simply supports for ewers before disappearing completely. In the History of Goryeo, it is recorded that a silver ewer was used in 948, and it also recounts that Goryeo ewers were sent to the Chinese imperial court as gifts in 1072 and 1080. Moreover, ewers were classified as a warming vessel, as was the practice in China. Their structure was similar to that of contemporaneous ewers from Northern Song Dynasty China. In addition, some of the decorative designs on Goryeo ewers and basins are comparable to their counterparts from Liao Dynasty China. In terms of production technique, the MFA example does not display the mature characteristics of repoussé developed in Goryeo around the twelfth century, such as tiny dense patterns in high-relief. Therefore, the MFA set is likely to have been produced at the end of eleventh century.
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