With its spherical shape and white finish—a product of a clear glaze that is characteristic of baekja ware—this vessel is reminiscent of the round, white form of the moon. These “moon jars,” as they were often referred, were produced for only about 100 years, appearing in the late 1600s and ceasing production around the early 1800s. This example of an 18th-century moon jar possesses the irregular curves and forms often found in ceramics made with a potter's wheel. The vessel is not exactly round, and the jar sports and uneven glaze that is darker on the bottom half. Furthermore, the lip at the top of the jar rests in what seemingly looks like a precarious position, reminiscent of a hat tilted on a head. Despite these asymmetries in both form and finish, this jar was prized during the Joseon dynasty for what were virtues found in its imperfection, a trait that echoes qualities found in nature.
This year marks LACMA's 50th anniversary. We're celebrating all that we've done while looking forward to what's in store for us in the next 50. Check back every week on Unframed to find a highlight of an artwork from LACMA's collection, which features over 120,000 objects that span time, the globe, and all cultures. This is 11/50 of the series.