Celadon refers to pottery that is jade green in color.
There are a number of theories about the origin of the term celadon. It might come from the Sanskrit words for stone (Sila) and green (Dhara). Or, it might come from Saladin: the Ayyubid dynasty ruler who sent forty Chinese greenware ceramics to the Sultan of Damascus, Nur-ed-din, in 1171. Alternatively, the term might come from the seventeenth-century French novel L'Astrée by Honoré d'Urfé, which has a character named Céladon who wears grey-green ribbons.
Celadon ceramics originated in China in the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220). They were a major export product and were sold in Persia, India, and Egypt in the Tang dynasty (618-907); throughout Eurasia in the Song dynasty (960-1279) and Ming dynasty (1368-1644); and in Europe by the fourteenth century. Celadons include many types of ceramics, including Yue ware and Longquan pottery. Production of celadons only slowed after blue-and-white porcelain began to be mass-produced at Jingdezhen, from the fourteenth century.
These greenish ceramics were valued because of their resemblance to jade, which was the most valuable and precious material. Jade had significant spiritual functions and was symbolic of virtue, power, and status.
To achieve these greenish glazes, potters coated stoneware vessels with slip (liquefied clay) that contains iron oxide before glazing. When the vessels were fired, the iron interacted with the glaze to produce a greenish hue.
Korean aristocrats admired Chinese celadons, especially those from the Northern Song (960-1126). Potters in Korea produced celadons from the mid-ninth century, in the Unified Silla (676-918). From the eleventh century, during the Goryeo period (918-1392), high quality works were made that diverged from Chinese celadons. Mass production began in the twelfth century and for approximately two centuries very fine celadons were produced in Korea, for consumption at home and abroad.
The most important Korean innovation was an inlaid technique called sanggam, which was developed in the mid-twelfth century. Potters incised designs into leather hard vessels and then filled the recessed areas with black or white slip. Later, during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1987), designs were often impressed using stamps rather than being incised freehand.
Tea was introduced to Korea during the Unified Silla (676-918) and gained wide popularity in the Goryeo period (918-1392). The nobility drank powered tea that was made by grinding a tea brick into powder and adding hot water. Tea bowls testify to the popularity of the beverage and the refined aesthetic tastes of the time. These wide bowls with steep edges allowed tea drinkers to enjoy the froth and grounds together.
Jingdezhen Langyao glaze (Lang kiln red or “ox blood” red)
Langyao is a vitreous red glaze that was developed at the Jingdezhen imperial kilns under the supervision of Lang Tingji (1663-1715) during the Kangxi period (1662-1722). Potters were emulating Ming dynasty monochrome red porcelain, especially from the Xuande period (1426-1435), which was notoriously difficult to achieve.
This copper glaze turns red after being fired in a reducing or oxygen deprived atmosphere. It sometimes drips down the vessel during firing, creating drops around the foot. The glaze must be a certain thickness to turn red, so areas where it is thin can be lighter in color or white.