About This Artwork


Bird Shaped Ewer with Crowned Rider Holding a Bowl, Goryeo dynasty (918–1392), 12th century

Stoneware with celadon glaze and underglaze incised decoration
21.4 x 17.7 x 13.2 cm (8 1/2 x 7 x 5 1/2 in.)

Bequest of Russell Tyson, 1964.1213

The prosperous Goryeo dynasty that gave its name to modern-day Korea produced some of the world’s most esteemed ceramics. Preeminent among these are celadons, whose iron-rich glazes had been refined by Chinese potters to create a subtle range of gray and bluish green hues. Under the Goryeo court, Korean craftsmen drew upon the Chinese celadon tradition to create wares of unprecedented beauty and ingenuity. The technical refinement and stylistic naiveté of this intricately constructed bird-shaped ewer exemplify a distinctively Korean aesthetic. Whereas the creature’s plump body resembles a duck’s, its head is crowned with a cockscomb. Disproportionately small wings project out as if in flight, while the tail swoops upward to form a reticulated handle that supports a man who stands atop the bird’s back, holding a bowl. His elaborate headdress and long, flowing robe suggest that this figure represents an immortal. Details of his garments, as well as of the bird’s overlapping scales and layered feathers, were finely carved and incised into the clay body before glazing and firing; these areas appear a slightly deeper green where the glaze naturally pooled. As a final touch, dots of underglaze iron brown accent the eyes. Although wine or other liquids could be poured into the figure’s bowl and out through the bird’s smiling beak, this vessel may have been designed purely as an ingeniously whimsical work of art.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 104.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco: "Goryeo Dynasty: Korea's Age of Enlightenment, 918-1392," October 18, 2003-January 11, 2004.

Osaka, Museum of Oriental Ceramics, "Chicago Bijutsukan Meihinten: Masterpieces of Chinese Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago," 1989, no. 96, traveled to the MOA Museum of Art, Atami and the Idemitsu Museum of Art, Tokyo.

Art Institute of Chicago, "Art of The Korea Potter," Oct. 5 - Nov. 17, 1968.

Asia House Gallery, spring 1968.

Publication History

Art Insitute of Chicago: Essential Guide, rev. ed. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 2013) p. 104.

Kumja Paik Kim, Goryeo Dynasty: Korea's Age of Enlightenment, 918-1392 (San Francisco: Asian Art Museum, 2003), pl. 260, p. 261.

Elinor Pearlstein and James T. Ulak, Asian Art in the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago / Harry N. Abrams, 1993), p. 150, p.80 (ill)

Osaka, Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Chicago Bijutsukan Meihinten: Masterpieces of Chinese Arts from The Art Institute of Chicago, (Osaka: Association for the Advancement of Fine Arts, 1989), pl. 113 (illus), p. 148.

Robert P. Griffing, the Art of the Korean Potter: silla, Koryo, Yi (New York : Asia Society; distributed by New York Graphic Society; Greenwich, Conn. 1968) Illus. P. 32. – An Asia House Gallery publication.

William M. Blair, "Russell Tyson" The Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly, vol.57, no. 3 (Autumn,1963), pl.48. (illus)

The Toledo Museum of Art, Northeastern Asiatic Art: Korea, Mancuria, Mongolia and Tibet, Toledo, 1942, No. 53.

Kim Yunjeong, "The Influence of Taoism on Goryeo Celadon," Celadon of the Goryeo Dynasty, Journal of Korean Art & Archaeology,vol. 6 (2012), p. 58, fig. 5.

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