Water Dropper in the Shape of a Fish

Period: Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)

Date: late 19th century

Culture: Korea

Medium: Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue

Dimensions: H. 3/4 in. (1.9 cm); Diam. 3 in. (7.6 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of Kang Collection, Korean Art, New York, 2003

Accession Number: 2003.549


Porcelain water droppers, part of the Joseon scholar's writing instruments (Brush holder, 11.142.1), were often shaped in whimsical forms. Besides fish (probably carp), fruits like peach, animals like the frog and turtle, and mountains were popular organic forms for the water dropper. Some are undecorated, but many are painted with cobalt blue either in part or whole, as is the case with this piece. Water from the droppers was used for grinding the ink stone to make ink.