Jar with designs of tortoises and cranes

Historical period(s)
Joseon period, 19th century
Porcelain with cobalt pigment under transparent, colorless glaze
Bunwon ware
H x W: 30.5 x 31.8 cm (12 x 12 1/2 in)
Korea, Gyeonggi-do province, Gwangju city, Bunwon-ri village, Bunwon kilns
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel


Bunwon ware, clear glaze, cobalt pigment, crane, Joseon period (1392 - 1910), Korea, porcelain, WWII-era provenance

From at least 1969 to 1970 Daisho Commercial & Industrial Co., Ltd, Tokyo, from at least February 12, 1969 [1]From 1970Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Daisho Commercial & Industrial Co., Ltd., March 16, 1970 [2]Notes:[1] See correspondence dated February 12, 1969, authorizing Mr. Yoshinobu Daisho to ship the object, along with two other objects, to the Freer Gallery, copy in object file. A receipt, dated May 13, 1969, confirms the delivery of the objects to the Freer Gallery for the consideration for purchase, copy in object file. [2] See Invoice issued by the Daisho Commercial & Industrial Co., Ltd, dated March 16, 1970, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Daisho Commercial & Industrial Co., Ltd.


According to East Asian belief, the crane, depicted twice on this jar, becomes immortal at the age of two thousand, while the tortoise is said to live for ten thousand years. Auspicious symbols decorated many porcelain jars used for storage in the kitchens of nobility. Here, the tortoise rises from the waves in his role as messenger of the dragon king, who dwells in a palace at the bottom of the sea. The stylized "cloud collar" surrounding the neck is typical of cobalt-decorated jars made at the official Bunwon kiln.

Published References

Oriental Ceramics (Toyo Toji Taikan): The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. pls. 81 & 82.Ann Yonemura. Korean Art in Western Collections, 5: Korean Art in the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 4, no. 2 Los Angeles, June 1983. pp. 4-15, pl. 16.Korean Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Washington, D.C. no. 10.20, p. 181.

Collection Area(s)
Korean Art
Web Resources
Korean Ceramics
Google Cultural Institute
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