The Net Motif (網目文) in White Porcelain

The so-called "Net motif" is an open mesh-like pattern that developed at the Chinese ceramic center of Jingdezhen (景德鎭) in the late Ming dynasty. During the Edo period, Japanese craftsmen first adapted the pattern for textiles and clothing manufacture before incorporating it into porcelain decoration.


Chinese and Japanese White Porcelain with Net Motif

The net motif is expressed in radically different ways in Chinese and Japanese ceramics. In the Chinese example, the net motif appears alongside wave patterns on both the interior and exterior of the bowl. Chinese artists frequently included fish and shrimp caught within the net to further enhance the idea of fishing on the open sea. The activity of fishing had additional symbolic meaning since the Chinese term for fish (魚, yu) is a homophone for the character for relaxation (餘, yu) and fish were regarded as symbols of fertility due to their method of incubating numerous eggs. While Chinese artists sought to emphasize the symbolic associations of the net motif, Japanese artists were more interested in its decorative potential. 


In the Japanese bowl, the net motif resembles a simple network of mesh fabric outlined in meticulous precision. The net appears to unfold from the center of the bowl to the outside, visually enhancing the shape crafted by the Japanese ceramicist. This type of net motif design became so popular in Japan that it was even incorporated into the design of kimono fabrics.

Joseon White Porcelain with Net Motif (網目文)

White Porcelain with Net Motif in Blue Underglaze (白磁靑畫網目文器皿)

Joseon dynasty, H. 2.9cm, (mouth) D. 9.9cm, (bottom) D. 8cm,

National Museum of Korea (Dongwon 1057) ⓒNational Museum of Korea

Korean ceramicists likely encountered the net motif through trade with Japan and imported Hizen porcelain in the late Joseon dynasty. However, this example reveals how Joseon ceramicists developed their own version of the net motif based on hexagonal or square patterns. In addition, Joseon potters frequently included auspicious characters such as the character for longevity (壽) alongside the net motif.

Let’s Think About It

 

The motifs that we examined are all auspicious symbols:

The chestnut design (栗文), the characters of Longevity and good fortune (壽福字紋), 

the young pine tree motif (若松文), the Japanese Wisteria (藤文) and the net motif (網目文).


Recalling the preceding catalog entries, match the motif with the correct image and the appropriate meaning?


Short Cut

The Net Motif (網目文) in White Porcelain


The so-called "Net motif" is an open mesh-like pattern that developed at the Chinese ceramic center of Jingdezhen (景德鎭窯) in the late Ming dynasty. During the Edo period, Japanese craftsmen first adapted the pattern for textiles and clothing manufacture before incorporating it into porcelain decoration. 

Chinese and Japanese White Porcelain
with Net Motif

The net motif is expressed in radically different ways in Chinese and Japanese ceramics. In the Chinese example, the net motif appears alongside wave patterns on both the interior and exterior of the bowl. Chinese artists frequently included fish and shrimp caught within the net to further enhance the idea of fishing on the open sea. The activity of fishing had additional symbolic meaning since the Chinese term for fish (魚,yu) is a homophone for the character for relaxation (餘) and fish were regarded as symbols of fertility due to their method of incubating numerous eggs. While Chinese artists sought to emphasize the symbolic associations of the net motif, Japanese artists were more interested in its decorative potential. 


In the Japanese bowl, the net motif resembles a simple network of mesh fabric outlined in meticulous precision. The net appears to unfold from the center of the bowl to the outside, visually enhancing the shape crafted by the Japanese ceramicist. This type of net motif design became so popular in Japan that it was even incorporated into the design of kimono fabrics.

Joseon White Porcelain
with Net Motif (網目文)

White Porcelain with Net Motif in Blue Underglaze  (白磁靑畫網目文器皿)

Joseon dynasty, H. 2.9cm, (mouth) D. 9.9cm, (bottom) D. 8cm, National Museum of Korea (Dongwon 1057) ⓒNational Museum of Korea


Korean ceramicists likely encountered the net motif through trade with Japan and imported Hizen porcelain in the late Joseon dynasty. However, this example reveals how Joseon ceramicists developed their own version of the net motif based on hexagonal or square patterns. In addition, Joseon potters frequently included auspicious characters such as the character for longevity (壽) alongside the net motif.

Let’s Think About It

 

The motifs that we examined are all auspicious symbols:

The chestnut design (栗文), the characters of Longevity and good fortune (壽福字文), the young pine tree motif (若松文), 

the Japanese Wisteria (藤文) and the net motif (網目文).


Recalling the preceding catalog entries, match the motif with the correct image and the appropriate meaning?

Short Cut