The development of stoneware vessels of the Goryeo dynasty (898–1392), with their grayish-green glazed surfaces (called “celadon” in the West), can be divided into two major periods. Monochrome wares began in the second half of the 10th century. In addition to plain pieces covered solely by a smooth glaze, many of them have incised, impressed, and molded decorations, sometimes in combination. These vessels were produced in direct imitation of Chinese green-glazed wares, particularly of the yue type first manufactured in the 2nd century CE. Instead of strictly copying their foreign models, Korean potters often adapted shapes and surface decorations in cups, bowls, vases, and complex figural vessels to appeal to a domestic market of royal, aristocratic, and Buddhist monk patrons. Plain Goryeo green ware was greatly admired by the Chinese court during the Song dynasty (960–1279), where officials recorded wonder at the “secret color” of Korea’s radiant bluish-green glaze as among the precious things “first under heaven.” Inlaid celadon (in Korean, sanggam cheongja), featuring black and white designs, and occasionally in combination with red, arose in the second half of the 12th century. The ornament of inlaid pieces is largely stylized, and most often it depicts sprays of peony and other flower motifs and plant rosettes, but some designs are more pictorially complex river and garden views.
The first half of the 12th century marks a golden age of ceramic production in the Goryeo dynasty (898–1392). The use of slip (liquid clay) paste inlaid into incised designs before the entire vessel was covered with the celadon glaze appears to be a Korean innovation of the period. After firing, the different inlaid slips look white and black under the pale glaze (and a rarer red inlay was occasionally used in combination with these two colors). Aside from a limited application of patterns incised and carved into the body of the petal-shaped cup, and in the leaf-like raise stand on which this wine cup rests, the main surface ornamentation consists of a black-and-white inlay of stylized chrysanthemum petals set against a pale green glazed ground. The uniform repetition of this floral motif emphasizes the symmetrical shapes of cup and stand. Other vessels of the period (see Smart Museum acc. no. 1995.85) feature instead abbreviated scenes of waterfowl among willow trees and reeds or views of gardens. The stand for this inlaid wine cup is quite similar in form, black-and-white decoration, and glaze color to a fragmentary example that was excavated from the tomb of King Huijong, who died in 1237. The celadons from this tomb were manufactured at royal kilns located on the southwestern coast of Korea.