12th-century treasures

After leaving work recently, I took my daughter to the Princeton University Art Museum to browse the collections. Our first stop was on the lower level where we viewed the 12th-century celadon glazed stoneware called Melon ewer with lotus-flower designIt is Korean, from the Goryeo dynasty and was recently acquired by the Princeton University Art Museum. Simply put, it’s gorgeous.

As we viewed this piece, both my daughter and I felt that we knew something about it because we had read the Newbery Medal winning young adult novel several years ago, “A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park. The main character of Park’s book, Tree-ear, is an orphaned 13-year-old boy, who lives under a bridge in a potters’ village in medieval Korea, who longs to learn how to create the delicate celadon ceramics himself. Park’s storytelling is part fictional story about Tree-ear’s experience as an apprentice and partly a historical lesson about the creation of celadon pottery during the 12th century. While reading the book I became fascinated with the process to create these works. Because Park researches each of her books in great detail then makes the information available on her website, I was able to truly appreciate the processes that were described in the novel.  

If you’re planning summer activities, why not delve into the 12th century by reading or listening to “A Single Shard” and then visiting the art museum for a viewing of the Korean pottery?  Whatever your age, the book is a terrific story and everyone will enjoy a visit to Princeton’s art museum. 

Photo by Bruce M. White.

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