Porcelain with underglaze iron
Diameter of base: 13.7 cm (5 3/8 in.); Overall: 34.7 cm (13 11/16 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1986.69
A mythical creature believed to have the power to make rain, the dragon is a prominent symbol of rulers in pre-modern East Asia, thus the image of dragons was used exclusively for the king's paraphernalia.
A whimsical dragon with bulging eyes wraps his scaled body around this vessel. Freely dispersed squiggly lines represent a series of lightning strikes. Realizing the impossibility of depicting a mythical being in a realistic sense, the artist imaginatively visualized this frightening, yet beneficial beast believed to have an ability to provide rain in times of drought. Coincidentally, in the late 1600s, when this jar was probably created, Korea suffered from erratic climate patterns including severe droughts in the summer.
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