국립중앙박물관 NATIONAL MUSEUM OF KOREA

Highlights
Bronze Lidded Bowl with Inscription of Hou (壺杅)
  • Exhibition Name

    Bronze Bowl with Inscription of “hou”

  • Culture/Period

    Silla Kingdom

  • Provenance

    Gyeongju-si

  • Materials

    Metal - Copper Alloy

  • Category

    Food - Tableware - Foods and Drinks - case

  • Dimensions

    H. 19.4cm

  • Designation

    Treasure 1878

  • Accession Number

    Sinsu 120

  • Location

    Goguryeo Kingdom

In 1946, the National Museum of Korea excavated a Silla tomb in Gyeongju. Among the artifacts they unearthed was this inscribed bronze jar or bowl. The tomb has come to be known as the “Houchong Tomb,” which means literally “Tomb of the Hou Jar.” The jar, which was made using a mold, has the symbol “井” on its body and 16 characters prominently appearing on its base reading: “Ulmyonyeon gukgangsang gwanggaetoji hotaewang howoosib” (乙卯年國罡上廣開土地好太王壺杅十). This inscription can be interpreted as “the tenth hou jar made in ulmyonyeon (415 CE) in celebration of King Gwanggaeto the Great.” Gwanggaeto the Great was the 19th king of the Goguryeo Kingdom. He reigned from 391 CE until his death in 413, so the bowl appears to have been made around the one-year anniversary of his death. The Houchong Tomb has been dated to the early sixth century, which means that this Goguryeo bronze bowl somehow found its way into a Silla tomb approximately one hundred years after it was made. This finding of a Goguryeo bronze artifact in a Silla tomb demonstrates the close relationship and the cultural exchanges that the two kingdoms shared at the time. In fact, many Goguryeo objects have been found at Silla sites from this time period. Examples from the Gyeongju region include a bronze jar with four ears from the Geumgwanchong Tomb, and gold earrings and gilt-gold shoes from the North Mound of the Hwangnamdaechong Tomb.