Hizen Porcelain (肥前磁器) Used at the Royal Court of Joseon
Hizen porcelain have been excavated from tombs belonging to members of the Joseon Royal family including the tombs of Princess Hwahyeop (和協翁主, 1733~1752) and Princess Hwayu (和柔翁主, 1740~1777), as well as Inmyeong-won (仁明園) and Uiryeongwon (懿寧園), the tombs of Royal Concubine Wonbin Hong (元嬪洪氏, 1766~1779) and Crown Prince Uiso (懿昭世孫, 1750~1752) respectively. Laboratory analysis of the internal components suggest that most of the containers were used to carry cosmetics.
This example was produced with the finest white porcelain (彩色白磁) and features a polychrome enamel over-glaze as well as a highly-polished foot. A close inspection of the surface reveals traces of a gilded impression of a Japanese wisteria that would have appeared in splendid gold when it was first produced. The sophisticated techniques and high-quality materials used in this example reflects the type of high-end imported ceramics that were favored by members of the Joseon Royal family.
White Porcelain Box with Japanese Wisteria Design Painted in Overglaze Polychrome Enamel (白磁彩色藤文盒)
Edo period, 18th century, H. 3.6cm, D. 5.1cm, National Museum of Korea (Deoksu 6537), ⓒNational Museum of Korea
White Porcelain Cup with Japanese Wisteria Design Painted in Overglaze Polychrome Enamel (白磁彩色藤文盞)
Edo period, 18th century, H. 4.2cm, (mouth) D. 5.1cm, (lid) D. 5.8cm, National Museum of Korea (Deoksu 6538) ⓒNational Museum of Korea
Uiryeongwon (懿寧園) is the burial place of Crown Prince Uiso (懿昭世孫, 1750~1752), the eldest son of Crown Prince Sado (思悼世子, 1735~1762) and Princess Hyegyeong (惠慶宮, 1735–1815). A white porcelain cup and box excavated From the Uiryeongwon were most likely produced in Hizen. Remnants of white powder and beeswax indicate that the box was used to house cosmetics. Since Prince Uiso died at the age of three, it seems likely that the box either belonged to Princess Hyegyeong or that it was included in the tomb to reflect Confucian values of cleanliness and refinement. Close examination of the ceramics indicates the patterns were originally highlighted in overglazed gold (金彩), making them even more resplendent than they appear in the present day.
White Porcelain Cup with Blue Underglaze
Edo period, 18th century, H. 3.7cm, (mouth) D. 5.9cm, National Palace Museum of Korea (Gungjung 376) ⓒNational Palace Museum of Korea
White Porcelain Box with Blue Underglaze
Edo period, 18th century, H. 3.3cm, D. 5.6cm,
National Palace Museum of Korea (Gungjung 377) ⓒNational Palace Museum of Korea
Princess Hwayu, the tenth daughter of King Yeongjo, married the official Hwang Injeom (黃仁點, 1732-1802) who served under King Yeongjo and King Jeongjo. After her death in 1802, Princess Hwayu was buried alongside her husband. Among the objects recovered from their tomb are a cup and box that bear the characteristic design of a Japanese wisteria, typical of ceramics produced in Hizen. The white porcelain cup has a wide mouth and narrow foot and features a blue underglaze. The box was excavated with the lid intact and surface designs visually connect the two components. Judging by their condition, it is likely that both items were used by the Princess and her husband as part of their everyday household activities.