2012 Special Exhibition
The The Best Under Heaven: Korean Celadon
○ Title : The Best under Heaven, the Celadons of Korea
○ Venue : Special Exhibition Gallery
○ Objects : 350 celadon wares selected from all over the world
- include Celadon Incense Burner with Lion-shaped Lid (National Treasure No. 60)
○ Period : Oct 16 - Dec 16th, 2012
From October 16 to December 16, the National Museum of Korea (Director Kim Youngna) presents its 2012 Special Exhibition: The Best Under Heaven: Korean Celadon. This is the first NMK exhibition in the last 20 years to be dedicated exclusively to Goryeo celadon, since the 1989 Special Exhibition Masterpieces of Goryeo Celadon.
Research on Korea’s long and distinguished ceramic tradition has advanced remarkably since the 1990s, and such research forms the foundation of this special exhibition, which outlines the origins and development of Goryeo celadon, including the creation and application of its unique inlay techniques. Furthermore, the exhibition illuminates the role, production, and circulation of celadon during the Goryeo Dynasty, as well as its relationship with other metal crafts and lacquerware.
The exhibition includes 350 intact celadon wares, which have been carefully selected from collections in Korea and abroad for their quality and significance. This unprecedented exhibition of celadon masterpieces is the largest of its kind in history, bringing together 29 of Korea’s designated cultural heritage items (18 National Treasures and 11 Treasures) and two of Japan’s designated important cultural assets.
The title of the exhibition comes from the book Su Jung Geum by the Song Dynasty writer Taepyeong Noin, who listed the “luminous jade-green color of Goryeo celadon” as one of the “best [things] under heaven.” This reference proves that Goryeo celadon was internationally acclaimed in its day, even surpassing the ceramics of the Song Dynasty. Also, after visiting Goryeo as a Song envoy, Suh Geung (1091-1153) recorded in his book Sun Hwa Bong Sa Goryeo Dogyung that “Goryeo people refer to the bluish color of the celadon as luminous and mysterious,” again demonstrating the exemplary quality and beauty of Goryeo celadon.
Rather than simply presenting the items in chronological order, the exhibition was organized in four parts to effectively and comprehensively explicate Goryeo celadon, in terms of its history, uses, inlaid technique, and masterpieces. This arrangement allows visitors to selectively view and appreciate each section from a different perspective. Also, the exhibition was carefully designed to allow visitors to enjoy the unique characteristics of celadon in three dimensions, rather than in a simple line-up.