Collection

Bronze Kundika with Silver Inlaid Landscape Design

  • Culture / Period

    Goryeo Dynasty

  • Materials

    Bronze

  • Dimensions

    H. 37.5cm

  • Designation

    National Treasure 92

  • Accession Number

    Bongwan-002426-000

This type of ritual ewer (kundika in Sanskrit) was derived from water bottles used in ancient India, introduced by Brahmans and later used by Buddhist monks. A number of examples have survived from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), in both celadon and bronze. This particular ewer is elaborately inlaid with an idyllic waterside landscape, featuring reeds and willows waving in the wind, birds peacefully hovering and floating about, fishermen in a boat, and a nearby hill draped in dense fog. The lines of inlaid silver are exceptionally fine—as thin as 0.5 mm in width—and must have once created a strikingly vivid image against the bronze background. Over time, however, tarnish has blackened the silver lines and turned the bronze surface green. Most Goryeo kundika that remain today have no pattern on their surface, but those few that are patterned usually show a style similar to this one, with a silver-inlaid waterside landscape. Such scenes are also regularly found on metal works and celadon from the period, indicating that waterside landscapes were clearly a very popular motif among Goryeo artisans.

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