Friday, January 8, 2010

A Woman In A Male Dominated Field: A Look At Seung Jin Ah's Cups & Pagodas

Throughout Korean history pottery (and most other fine arts) was always left to the men- this was true throughout Japan and China as well. Today although much has changed as far as gender equality in Korean and throughout the world, the top potters of the country are still predominately male. This to me seems a bit odd in a country where the many ceramic cafes are almost exclusively filled with women.

Even though the top master potters are all men, there are some up and coming women who are producing beautiful works. Seung Jin Ah is one of those potters.

Seung Jin Ah, like most women potters in Korea, doesn't produce traditional pieces. The production of traditional tea bowls seems almost entirely male dominated. Although her pieces are more contemporary than traditional, she still lives a traditional potters life. She lives on the mountain and spends her time building, maintaining, and firing in her self made traditional wood fired kiln.

Her cups and pagodas are especially unique. Although they have the grittiness of being wood fired they are elegant and cute. The cups and pagodas alike are marked with black flecks of ash and small black scorch marks that have fallen on them in the kiln. They are lightened by beautiful tinges of pinkish orange, like the flash of natural colour- sunrise.

The pagodas are a bit darker in colour than the cups. The darker colour of these mini pagodas resemble that of the washed out stone of the real monument. Those monuments that adore most every temple in the country.

In the hand and on the lip the quaint cups feel gritty and, although small in size, are solid and proper. Overall, the texture and look of these pieces remind one of early morning sun on the beach or on the soft rocks of the mountain.



  1. Nice to ear about a woman potter : I specially like the color of the clay and the elegance of these cups . Hope more women in that creation field !!!!

  2. Ginkgo,

    Yeah, her clay is amazing- the texture of these pieces are such a treat for the fingers!