Earthly Delights: 6,000 Years of Asian Ceramics

, University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

Tall stand, Korea, Three Kingdoms period, Kaya, 5th century. Stoneware with incised, applied, and openwork decoration. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Partial gift of Maria C. Henderson and partial purchase through a fund established by Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane for the purchase of Asian art, 1991.501.

University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

Transport yourself over millennia and marvel at East Asian ceramics of all shapes, styles, colors, and textures.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to explore highlights from the Harvard Art Museums’ collection of Asian ceramics. Anchored by standout works from Korea and China, and also featuring objects from Vietnam and Japan, the exhibition emphasizes how visual, material, and technical features varied across time and place—while also drawing connections among potters working in disparate contexts.

Made between the 5th millennium BCE and the 21st century, the over 100 works in the exhibition display a wide range of techniques used by potters to channel the intense heat of the kiln. These potters, whose identities have largely not been recorded, used ceramic wares to capture the essence of East Asian cultures during their lifetimes. A selection of objects in the exhibition depicting animals and observations of the natural world provides one important window into this relationship between artists and their milieus.

Discover dragons, a popular motif on Korean and Chinese ceramics that is associated with royals, and see how these mythical creatures can take on both comical and majestic forms. In addition, the story of ceramics would not be complete without an exploration of cobalt blue and its importance to the aesthetics of East Asian ceramics. This becomes evident in the selection of platters and jars on view in the exhibition, from perfectly executed Chinese imperial ware to delightfully informal Korean and Vietnamese examples.

Curated by Sarah Laursen, Alan J. Dworsky Associate Curator of Chinese Art, and Soyoung Lee, Landon and Lavinia Clay Chief Curator, with contributions by Yuhua Ding, Gregory and Maria Henderson Curatorial Fellow in East Asian Art, and Yan Yang, Cunningham Curatorial Assistant for the Collection, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art.

This exhibition is supported by the Gregory and Maria Henderson Fund.