Exploring the Enchanting World of Korean Moon Jars

Among the gems of Korean ceramic culture, the Korean moon jar, known as “dal-hang-ari” (달항아리) in Korean, stands out as a uniquely beautiful and culturally significant piece. More recently, thanks to RM of BTS, a new and younger generation worldwide has come to appreciate the iconic moon jars. In a remarkable auction event at Christie’s New York, an 18th-century Korean moon jar has achieved a staggering sale price of $4.56 million, significantly surpassing the initial estimation of $1 million. This moon jar, previously possessed by a private owner in Japan, stands tall at 45.1 centimetres (17.7 inches). It makes it a notably prominent example of a traditional Korean moon jar.

History Of  Korean Moon Jars

The history of Korean moon jars is closely intertwined with the Joseon Dynasty and its embrace of Confucian ideals emphasizing simplicity and elegance. Over the five centuries of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea’s neo-Confucian belief system influenced various aspects of society, with plain white porcelain symbolizing Confucian identity. Moon jars debuted in the late 17th century and remained popular until the mid-18th century.

The distinctive white surface of moon jars results from using “baekja,” a refined white kaolin clay, symbolizing purity. Breaking news: The absence of decorative elements represents the restraint of artists, refraining from adding more to maintain the jars’ minimalist and elegant appearance.

The Iconic Status of Moon Jars

  1. Confucian Aesthetics: During the Joseon Dynasty, Confucianism profoundly influenced Korean society. Moon jars, with their unadorned white surfaces, embodied Confucian virtues of purity, honesty, modesty, and simplicity. Their minimalist design mirrored the ideals of the time, making them highly sought after.
  2. Imperfections as Beauty: Unlike pursuing perfection, the 17th and 18th centuries celebrated naturalism and spontaneity. Moon jars, crafted entirely by hand, showcased slight deviations from perfect circular shapes due to the unpredictable changes during firing. These unique imperfections enhanced their beauty and charm.
  3. Cultural Symbolism: Moon jars symbolize the importance of the colour white in Korean history and the subtle changes in nature, resembling the ever-changing phases of the moon. They have become powerful symbols of Korean heritage and resilience.
  4. Post-Independence Significance: After South Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945, moon jars gained renewed prominence as symbols of cultural identity and the nation’s enduring spirit. Korean artists and potters studied and recreated these jars, solidifying their cultural importance.
  5. Global Recognition: Moon jars are featured in museum collections worldwide, with only a few surviving works from the Joseon Dynasty. 

Where to Find Moon Jars

While antique Korean moon jars from the Joseon period can command prices in the millions, contemporary artists are creating more accessible versions. These contemporary moon jars come in various sizes and price ranges, making them accessible to a younger generation of Korean enthusiasts. Some places to explore and purchase contemporary moon jars include:

  • Daurim: A group of potters and tea artisans specializing in handmade ceramics from Korea and Taiwan.
  • The Moon Jar: Makers of stoneware that combines essential design with craftsmanship, offering modern-day heirlooms inspired by moon jars.
  • Studio Ko: what’s more, representing a connection to home, identity, and historical Korean context, Studio Ko creates contemporary interpretations of traditional Korean art.

The Artistry Behind Moon Jars

Creating a moon jar is a meticulous and intricate process that requires skilled craftsmanship and a deep understanding of porcelain. Here’s a glimpse into the steps involved:

  1. Clay Selection: Moon jars are typically crafted using “baekja,” a refined kaolin clay with minimal iron oxide content, allowing for the signature milky white colour. However, this clay requires firing at extremely high temperatures.
  2. Handmade Construction: Moon jars cannot be made in one piece on a potter’s wheel due to the clay’s limitations. 
  3. Joining the Halves: The upper and lower halves are carefully joined together in the middle, leaving a visible horizontal seam. This joining process demands precision to ensure the jar’s structural integrity.
  4. Drying and Initial Firing: After joining, one leaves the jar to dry and often gives it an initial firing at a lower temperature, preparing it for glazing and the final firing.
  5. Glazing and Final Firing: Moon jars are glazed to achieve their milky white surface. 
  6. Imperfections as Artistry: Further moon jars embrace imperfections as integral to their artistic appeal. Slight asymmetry or variations in colour are outcomes of the handcrafted process and the unpredictable nature of firing, not flaws.

A Symbol of Korean Identity and Nature’s Beauty

Moon jars transcend their historical significance, embodying not only the spiritual practices of their time but also the enduring importance of the colour white in Korea’s history. Their asymmetrical symmetry, characterized by the imperfections resulting from their production, mirrors the subtle variations found in nature. In addition, This quality makes them resemble the ever-changing phases of the moon and a symbol of constant transformation in international news. First, you may never witness the same shape twice in viewing moon jars, just as the moon waxes and wanes.


Last, Korean moon jars are timeless masterpieces embodying the essence of Korean culture, history, and artistry. Their unique blend of Confucian aesthetics, imperfections as beauty, and cultural symbolism continues to captivate hearts worldwide.