ISSN : 1229-0076
This study looks at the following questions: how did Goryeo celadon; which flourished during the Goryeo dynasty and was known to contemporary China and Japan, suddenly drew interest from Korean and Japanese scholars in the modern period when it started to be collected and reproduced, and even exhibited around the world; and how was it perceived during the Joseon dynasty. It examines the contemporary views and perceptional changes towards Goryeo celadon by reviewing historical records, collections of literary works, diaries, and other materials written by Joseon literati who would play a role in linking their Goryeo predecessors and their own successors in the modern world. The accounts which show the interest, the appreciation, and the collecting of Goryeo celadon are concentrated in historical records and literary collections produced in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Through those writings, it is understood that Goryeo celadon was thought of as something exquisite or elegant, profound, and authentic that could hardly be mimicked. Meanwhile, literati texts written in the late Joseon period describe the Goryeo celadons as physical objects, that were either owned by the authors or seen by them and remembered with specific images. In the late nineteenth century, Goryeo celadons were even selected as royal gifts for diplomacy. This study finds that unlike previous studies which have emphasized the process of modernized Japan and Western powers indulging in Goryeo celadon out of cultural interest and taste since 1900s, Goryeo celadon was actually collected and appreciated starting in the eighteenth century. In the first half of the nineteenth century, Goryeo celadons were continuously stolen from graves and bought by the Japanese. Starting from the eighteenth century, information on Goryeo became increasingly common as books and artwork from China was introduced and rapidly disseminated. Various historical books including Gaoli tujing and collected literary works were copied, kept, and read. In particular, the Gaoli tujing was found to have survived in various manuscript exemplars produced in Korea; this has implications for other important texts. Various pieces of information on Goryeo continuously and repeatedly contributed to the formation of how Goryeo was viewed; this viewpoint was reconstructed and established as the present image of the dynasty. The memories and experiences gleaned from texts and physical objects overlapped and interwove in the Joseon period to imbue Goryeo celadon with symbolic meanings.