The ancient silk trade routes had an
abundance of goods and knowledge transported or traded within it. The
cities and towns close to the routes became the emerging global economy.
Ancient Korea utilized the overland and maritime routes for great commercial
exchanges. Korean artisans created an assortment of goods and even built
structures in Japan. Documented purchase orders during the Silla Kingdom period
were of many products but one of great note was the ceramics. On our Silk Road
exploration we spoke with Vancouver-based pottery master JungHong
Kim originally from Korea. Celadon pottery master Kim spoke on why Korean
celadon is highly regarded. Master Kim’s works are currently on exhibit at the
Museum of Vancouver. His pursuit for ceramic craft began over twenty-five
years ago while still living in Korea. Kim apprenticed with a Korean celadon
master for seven years. He continued mastering his celadon technique after
coming to Canada. He wanted to showcase Korean culture through his art.
Master Kim is now sharing skills with his many students and also through his
exhibits. Celadon also known as green ware are highly regarded as some of the
finest and most sought ceramics by collectors. Its colour resembles jade, a
representation of status, purity and health. Koreans learned celadon making
from China and later exported it to Japan. Korean celadon production started
during the Goryeo dynasty. It’s desirable jade like colour and transparent crackle
glaze finish are created by the addition of iron oxide into the glaze or onto the
clay body itself. Eleven hundred years ago artisans invented a ceramic inlaid design technique known as Sanggam. Potters would engrave the semi-dried pottery
with designs and inlay the engravings with black or white clay. Dark-colored
clay brings out the best results for blue color on pieces. Master Kim specialty is finger drawn
style ceramics. He believes that earthenware glazed at
high temperatures is good for health not the mass-produced wares coated with
chemicals and glazed at lower temperatures. After the first firing a
second glazing is applied then fired again. Master Kim strives for perfection.
Here he is destroying an imperfect one. It is not uncommon that one out of 500
would be acceptable.