Make sure to send one potter from Yangsan and another from Gijang to the Waegwan first, so that we can handle and manage them ….
-Waein Gucheong Deungnok (Record of Japanese Request) , 1687 (king Sukjong13) 6th month 2nd day Record-
Ceramics from Peninsula to Archipelago
Joseon ceramics were highly valued in Japan and were frequently utilized as tea ware (茶具) in Japanese tea culture. In particular, tea bowls known as dawan (茶宛) were extremely popular and were commonly referred to as Kōrai chawan (高麗茶碗) after the Goryeo dynasty (高麗時代) in Korean history. When production of inlaid celadon or sanggam (象嵌靑瓷) ceased at the end of the Goryeo dynasty, buncheong-ware (粉靑沙器) replaced Goryeo dawan as the most popular type of Korean export ware in Japan.
Buncheong-ware was so beloved in Japan that certain high-value ceramics were given names to highlight their individual beauty.
Horimishima Tea Bowl (彫三島茶碗)
Joseon dynasty, 16-17th century, H. 6.1cm, (mouth) D. 15cm, (bottom) D. 5.3 cm, Tokyo National Museum of Japan(TG-2705) ⓒColBase (https://colbase.nich.go.jp/)
Horimishima Tea Bowl is an example of buncheong-ware. The character hori in the name means “dig” and refers to the inlay technique in which a groove is incised in the clay surface and filled with white slip. In Japan, this type of ceramic with slip inlay is known as mishima*. The design on the concave surface of the Horimishima Tea Bowl is created using both slanting incised lines as well as pattern stamps and then filled with white slip. Multiple pattern sequences appear on the body of the vessel and the foot of the bowl is decorated with flower patterns. In Japan, flower patterns stamped on the inside of the tea bowl were called uchi-hana (內花) and flower patterns on the outside were called soto-hana-de (外花手). Ceramic vessels with flower patterns applied close to the foot of the bowl were considered especially precious.
*Mishima : Mishima is a Japanese term referring to Korean celadon ceramics with a slip inlay. The design is incised on the surface of the ceramic and slip of a contrasting color is brushed into the pattern. When the ceramic is dry, a thin layer of excess clay is scraped off and the inlayed pattern appears vividly on the surface.
Where did the term Mishima come from?
Theory 1. The appearance of Korean inlayed ceramics resembled an almanac published by Mishima (三島) Temple.
Theory 2. Mishima is the Japanese pronunciation for the Korean name Samdo (三島), an early designation for Geomun Island, located in South Gyeonsang province in Korea.
Theory 3. The term Mishima or Samdo in Korean was used as an alternative name for “Joseon” during the Muromachi Shogunate Era (室町時代).
*Misima is a Japanese pronunciation and Samdo is the Korean pronunciation.
Bowl With Stamped Design and the Inscription of “Miryang Jangheunggo" (密陽長興庫)
Joseon dynasty, H. 4.6cm, (mouth) D.11.9cm, (bottom) D. 5.1cm, Tokyo National Museum of Japan(TG-2784) ⓒColBase (https://colbase.nich.go.jp/)
This mishima (三島) tea bowl is decorated with stamped patterns(印花技法) and covered in a layer of white slip. The inscription "Miryang Jangheunggo (密陽長興庫) ” on the interior of the bowl indicates that it was originally produced for a government office in the area of Miryang (密陽) in Korea. This office, known as Daebusanggo (大府上庫) in the early years of the Goryeo period, was renamed as Jangheunggo (長興庫) in the 34th year of King Chungnyeol's (忠烈王) reign (1308). During the Joseon dynasty, Jangheunggo managed general services including distributing bamboo mats, high-quality paper, and paper-works.
Buncheong-wares bearing the inscription “Jangheunggo” were mainly produced in Gyeongsang province (慶尙道) with some additional production sites in Chungcheong province (忠淸道). This example reveals how buncheong-ware produced in central and southern Korea for Jangheunggo were sometimes exported to Japan to be used as tea bowls.
In the 17th century, ceramicists in the Takeo (武雄) region of Japan started producing tea bowls with symbols such as cranes and flowers using the technique of stamp and slip inlay typical of Korean buncheong-ware from the 15th century. This attempt to replicate the style of Korean pottery speaks to the popularity of Goryeo teabowls in Japan. There is even evidence that Joseon artists were kidnapped during the Imjin war (1592) and brought to Japan to help develop ceramic production in Takeo.
In the early phases of production, these Japanese ceramics closely resembled Goryeo celadon and Buncheong-ware. Over time, however, Japanese artists developed new styles that reflected changing fashions and local taste.