White Porcelain with Young Pine Tree Design


In the nineteenth century, Joseon ceramics often featured a new type of pine tree design that departed from more traditional representations of the subject. 

The so-called yaksong (若松) or young pine tree, was used as a symbol for the development and purity of a young child. Already well-established in Japan, the symbol was introduced to Korea through trade and cultural exchange with the Japanese archipelago.  


Designs featuring the symbol of the young pine tree frequently appear in Japanese ceramics and other cultural products. One such example, White porcelain dish with wave and young pine tree design in blue underglaze in the collection of the National Palace Museum, was exported to Korea during the Joseon period. On the surface of the dish, the ceramicist has painted young pine trees in blue underglaze between various cloud motifs and above a description of flowers and willows. Although this design reflects a distinctly Japanese aesthetic, similar designs start to appear in Joseon ceramics produced in the 19th century.

White Porcelain Square Dish with Piece of Cloud and Young Pine Tree Design in Blue Underglaze

(白磁靑畫松文接匙)

Joseon dynasty, 19th century, National Museum of Korea ⓒNational Museum of Korea


Japanese ceramics featuring the young pine tree motif started to filter into Korea in the eighteenth century. However, most Joseon ceramics with this type of design were produced in the nineteenth century. These examples show how Korean ceramicists closely followed Japanese examples, not only in the depiction of the young pine tree but also in the accompanying cloud motif (雲割文). 

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