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Korean name
Revised Romanizationonggi

Onggi (Korean: 옹기, 甕器) is Korean earthenware, which is extensively used as tableware, as well as storage containers in Korea. It includes both unglazed earthenware fired near 600 to 700°C and pottery with a dark brown glaze fired at over 1100°C.[1]

The earliest known painted representations of onggi ware from 1781, in a scene on the panel of A Pictorial Biography of Hong Yi-san, exhibitied at the National Museum of Korea.[2]

The origin of onggi dates to around 4000 to 5000 BC.[3] The two types of earthenware are a patternless earthenware which is called mumun and a black and red earthenware. The former, a patternless earthenware, was made with lumps of clay including much fine sand; however, the predecessor of Goryeo celadon and Joseon white porcelain, a black/red earthenware, was being made with only lumps of clay. The color of earthenware is determined by the iron contained in the clay and the way of burning the pottery. The present onggi shape dates from the Joseon era. Many records about onggi are found in Sejong Sillok Jiriji (Korean: 세종실록지리지, "King Sejong's Treatise on Geography"): "There are three kilns that make the yellow onggi in Chogye-gun and Jinju-mok, Gyeongsang Province".[4]


Ong (옹) (甕, 瓮) is the Korean word for "pottery" and refers to the form of the bowl.

Pottery has been used on the Korean peninsula since prehistoric times for storing food. In the Three Kingdoms period, images of large and small pottery appear on the tomb murals of Anak 3 in Goguryeo. Baekje and Silla records that they stored rice, liquor, oil, soy sauce, and salted fish. It is also used for drinking water storage. In the early period of the Joseon Dynasty, there were 104 'Ongjang(옹장)' in 14 institutions such as Bongsung Temple, and there were two assistants according to ≪Ggyeong-guk Dae-jeon(경국대전)≫ in Joseon. In Sung-Hyun's ≪선화봉사 고려도경 宣和奉使高麗圖經≫, "Pottery is the most necessary vessel for people. Now, in Mapo and Noryangjin, mud baking is done as a clay pot, a kind of earthenware. " Thus, it can be seen that pottery has been used for life since prehistoric times.[5]


Compared to porcelain, onggi has a microporous structure and has been found to assist in the fermentation in food processing such as the preparation of gochujang (fermented chili pepper, bean and rice paste), doenjang (fermented bean paste), kimchi (fermented seasoned vegetables), and soy sauce. Onggi with proper porosity and permeability needs to be used in order to produce an optimally ripened quality in fermented foodstuff. Fine-tuned onggi containers are, in fact, suitable for many different kinds of fermented products.[6] Since early times, Korea has been famous for fermented foods. In ancient Chinese historiography, in the Biographies of the Wuhuan, Xianbei, and Dongyi (traditional Chinese: 烏丸鮮卑東夷傳) in the Records of Wèi (traditional Chinese: 魏志), which is part of the Records of the Three Kingdoms, there is this remark: "Goguryeo people have a custom of making fermented foods".[7] The abundance of soybeans, which grow naturally in Korea, the fresh fishery resources from the sea surrounding the Korean Peninsula and a proper climate for microbial development, all give account of the importance of fermentation as food processing. The development and refinement of onggi ware also contributed to the development of fermented dishes within Korean cuisine. Large onggi ware were stored on the jangdokdae, an elevated floor near the house.[8]


Onggi, which are made by a specialized group of workmen called onggijang (Korean옹기장), has been influenced by the characteristics and climate of the regions where it has been made. Therefore, there are shapes and sizes of onggi and ways of manufacturing it that vary from region to region.[9] Nevertheless, all onggi types share some properties. These are biodegradability, porosity, and its proof against rot as well as firmness or "vertebration".[10] Due to the low firing temperatures often used in producing onggi, they are rarely found archaeologically since the sherds return to the clay state or are used as grog. Features of Onggi include its Breathability, Stability, Suitability for Fermentation, Economical Price, Porosity and Diversity of use.[11]


By heating to a high temperature, the crystal water contained in the wall of the pottery vessel is discharged, and pores are generated, so that air flows between the inside and the outside of the pottery pot. For this reason, Onggi was recognized as a breathable vessel from ancient times.[12]


The pores of the pottery wall act as pushing out the impurities formed on the inner surface, so that the contents have excellent storage ability that can be stored for a long time without decaying.[13]

Suitability for Fermentation[edit]

The most important characteristic of Korean cuisine is its use of fermented food. Fermented food is mostly fermented in Onggi pots. Tobacco, candlesticks, and cooked rice are also stored in containers made for fermentation purposes.[14]

Economical Price[edit]

Since onggi the materials used in making Onggi can be easily and cheaply obtained, Onggi has traditionally retailed at a low price, which is not burdensome for ordinary people.


While burning onggi, the onggijang master glazes its surface. This glaze plays a key role in giving a waterproof surface and preventing leaks. Following up, many particles of sand are included in the body of the clay acting as passages for air. This way, air can move through onggi while water cannot. Koreans call this action "Onggi drawing breath." This is one of the most critical reasons to use onggi in making Korean fermented foods.[15][16]

Variety of Usage[edit]

Onggi is mainly used for food containers, but they can also be used to store household appliances such as lamps, fireplaces, ashtrays, ashtrays, coins, and ink pads, as well as ceremonial instruments, and for percussion instruments such as cans, onion jugs, and wind instruments.[17][18]

Korean traditional pottery 'Onggi'

Production method[edit]

Onggi pots are made of clay with a high percentage of iron. First, the soil to make the pottery is put into the water and whipped out to remove sand and impurities. Then, when the water comes out from the fine sediment that you have received, it forms a bowl and is dried in the sun. The potters then dry the dried-up bowl again in the sun, wash it with a lye solution, then dry it again. The glaze that is applied to the bowl is mixed with various substances and is then sifted through a sieve. After the glaze is applied to the bowl, an orchid or grass pattern is drawn on the body and the pot is air-dried thoroughly, then baked in a kiln and finished.[19]

Another process of making Onggi is to first knead the soil, dry it in the shade and then with a tool to make it into a brick shape, and hit it on the floor into a plank shape. This is referred to as 'Panzhangjil(판장질)'. Then put it on a spinning wheel and iron it (batting) with a Ddukmae(떡매). The shape of the Onggi is determined by the speed and hand movements of the spinning wheel. Since the pottery culture seemed likely to disappear after the 1960s due to the appearance of plastic and stainless steel bowls, the Ministry of Culture designated the Onggi Human Cultural Property in May 1989. In 1990, Onggijang(Onggi technician) was designated as Important Intangible Cultural Properties No. 96.[20][21]

Types of Onggi Pots[edit]

The kinds of Onggi and its usage are as follows.

  • Jang-dok (장독): It is the container that stores the soy sauce. The soy sauce stirs meju(메주) in the winter, soaking in the winter, and soaking in the New Year.

The act of putting red pepper, charcoal, jujube in a handhold and putting a gold wire on a rope and cutting and attaching a bouquet or a sword pattern is a way of saying that "the house is ruined if the taste changes." .

The gold bars are intended to prevent irregularities that may be caught in the dipping sauces. The sod is always pale, meaning that the sour taste does not change at all times. The fact that the sushi line is reversed means that it will return to its original taste even if the taste has changed. Also, putting charcoal, red pepper, jujube etc was like black as charcoal, red like red pepper and sweet as sweetness.

  • Mul-hang (물항): In the old days, water was used as a drinking water in the creek and village wells, so a pot was needed to store water in each house. I used to stand on the side of the kitchen or to dig a part of the cooktop and use it.

After the strength of the Japanese colonial rule, the liquor was replaced with a standardized form in the unique form of transferring alcoholic beverages, which was made only by the licensed sake maker.

Gimchi Jang-dok (장독)

In general, the sake used in the sake brewery is the 'sake, stone, stone, number, doo, bottle, , 'Year', 'month', 'month', 'test' and so on, and sometimes the name of a zodiac or a dragon appears.

  • Ssal-hang (쌀항): Used as a container for grain storage in Kwang () and Daechung (대청). Onggi is highly breathable and absorbent, so it has the advantage that it can be stored for longer than putting the grain in another place. As a grain storage container, toxin poison (poison poison) was also used a lot.[22]
  • Ddong-hang (똥항): When digging the bottom of a conventional toilet (chugan) and storing the manure by storing it, when the manure was filled in the jar, it was used as a fertilizer in the paddy field South Korea
  • Mokyork-tong (목욕통): When the house was not equipped with bathing facilities, I washed my body using a spatula, which is a specially designed private bathtub. There is a small fire hole under the size enough for an adult to sit in. It was possible to use a private Shiru in such a rich house.
  • Shiru (시루): It is a container used to cook rice cake or rice and to raise bean sprouts. The rice paddy is broader than the height so that the rice can be ripened evenly, and the bean sprouts are tall and narrow.
  • Dong-i (동이): It is a container used to carry water, and its shape is long and its round shape is typical and its handles are on both sides. The ladies placed a gourd out of water to keep the water from overflowing, and put a toothed earring on the head and then a water jar on it.[23]
  • Cheongsu-Tong-i (청수통이): This container, which is very small and has a handle on both sides, was one of the family beliefs and was used to give intelligence to the curator of the Cheongsu-tong-i. In the first dawn, the water flowed from the well to the water well in advance of the other person. I laid the straw on the crossroads on the stand and I wished for the peace of the family and the health of the family.
  • Sorae-gi (소래기): Depending on the area also called sorae-gi, which has versatile uses, such as when a large amount of vegetables were washed or knocked down as cooking utensils during housework or as a lid of bath tubs or large jars. The diameter is much larger than the bottom diameter.
  • Nulbakji (널박지): It is widely used to wash vegetables or to wash clothes with a container spreading sideways at low height.
  • Ombakji (옴박지): It is also called a boom, with a container smaller than a small place. It was mainly used to wash rice, barley, sesame, and washing dishes, and it was also used as a form of folk belief in homicide in the house.
  • Chot-byeong (촛병): It is a container to put vinegar made to be able to put liquid on the shoulder. The liquor and taste changed, and the liquor was covered with wood or straw, placed on the side of the stew, and fermented. When the candle is about to deteriorate, he puts 3 bottles of yeast, 3 spoons of rice, and 3 charcoal flashed in a candle bottle.[24]
  • Jomdori (좀도리): To save food, it is a container that we put away a handful of grains to prepare rice for rice.
  • Jarabyeong (자라병): The shape of the jelly is similar to the name of the growing outdoors when you go out to drink a bottle made by twisting the paper. There is a small hole that can be opened.

This bottle, also known as the ear cup, is mainly made of liquid to make it easier for the snout to follow a small bottle.[25]

  • Guiddadanji (귀때단지): The vessel used to browse the grain or red pepper made the inner surface of the bowl bend without glazing.
  • Hwak-dok (확독): There are various sizes ranging from large venom, which is used to carry seafood to the vessels, to vessels that have been stored for a long period of time.
  • Kinds of cover: Onggi lids vary in name depending on their shape. In the form of a helmet, there is a lid with a bud in the center, a lid with a trapezoidal shape, a lid with a glaze in the center and a glaze-free lid. Generally, grains and water harvests were made by knitting wooden boards or straws without using lids.
  • Jilhwaro (질화로): It is a container made of vine (mud) and used in the room. When I lit it in the kitchen, I put a straw blanket here and put a bagon or a pharynx into the room.
  • Guidaeng-i (귀댕이): This so-called retail jade is used to feed manure.
  • Janggun (장군): It is called as a sake general, a moth or a dragon, depending on the contents contained in a container to carry alcohol, soy sauce, manure, and water. In the case of the muddy army, when the manure in the house was filled with manure, it was poured into the general, poured into the puddle and plowed into the puddle with the general holding the manure.[26][27][28][29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 이, 종호 (2004-07-09). "숨쉬는 그릇 옹기" [A breathing vessel, Onggi]. 네이버 뉴스.
  2. ^ Sayers, 18
  3. ^ Moon, 74-91
  4. ^ Lee and Chung, 16
  5. ^ 조, 정현 (1987). 《옹기소론(甕器小論)》. 이화여자대학교 미술대학.
  6. ^ Changwon Jeonmun Daehak, 7, 39-64.
  7. ^ Lee and Chung, 100
  8. ^ 문, 소운 (2017-12-05). "김칫독" [Kimchi Jangdokdae]. 경상일보.
  9. ^ Jeong, 138
  10. ^ Jeong, 132
  11. ^ 이, 종근 (2014-01-06). "옹기의 수수함과 소박한 멋" [The simplicity and snazziness of the Onggi]. 새전북신문.
  12. ^ 이, 윤기 (2018-07-12). "한국인들 지혜 놀라워..." [Korean Wisdom, amazing...]. news1뉴스.
  13. ^ 변, 광섭 (2017-12-05). "한국의 발효과학 옹기" [The science of fermentation in Korea,Onggi]. 충청일보.
  14. ^ 문, 재원 (2018-12-12). "장독에 담긴 한국의 맛" [The Korean flavor in Onggi]. UPI뉴스.
  15. ^ 서, 진발 (2008-10-10). "옹기 발효기능 탁월" [Excellent in the fermentation of the Onggi]. 연합뉴스.
  16. ^ 문, 소운 (2017-02-14). "옹기에 담긴 그림" [An Onggi picture].
  17. ^ Robert sayers and Ralph Rangler, Smithsonian Folklif (1987). 《The Korean Onggi potlei》. Washington D.C, Smithsonian lnstitute Press.
  18. ^ 김, 종욱 (2018-10-15). "세월의흔적,옹기" [Traces of time, Onggi]. 매일신문.
  19. ^ 이, 성규 (2018-11-06). "옹기는 왜 배불뚝이일까" [Why Onggi is portly?]. 뉴스로드.
  20. ^ 두산백과. "옹기(onggi)". Doopedia.
  21. ^ 윤, 기득 (2018-07-09). "장인의 숨결을 찾아" [Searching of Onggi master's breath]. 울산매일.
  22. ^ 이, 보은 (2018-11-01). "쌀은 옹기에 보관하세요" [Store the rice in an Onggi]. 한겨레.
  23. ^ 문, 소운 (2018-07-10). "물받이 옹기" [A water pan, Onggi]. 경상일보.
  24. ^ 이, 춘호. "땅속 옹기에서 숨쉬는 천연발효 식초" [A natural vinegar that breathes in an underground Onggi]. 2018-08-17.
  25. ^ 문, 민주 (2018-07-22). "물동이,자라병,목긴병...소박한 옹기들" [Muldong-i, Jarabyeong....simple Onggies]. 전북일보.
  26. ^ 한국회중앙연구원. "옹기". 한국민족문화대백과.
  27. ^ 윤, 용이 (1996). 《아름다운 우리 도자기》. 학고재.
  28. ^ 이훈석·정양모·정명조 (1991). 《빛깔있는 책들-옹기》. 대원사.
  29. ^ 김, 은애 (2018-07-23). "제주사람의 삶이 담긴 옹기를 만나다" [Meeting Onggi that contains life of Jeju people]. 미디어제주.
  • Changwon Jeonmun Daehak 창원전문대학 [Changwon College], "Balhyosikpumui pumjire michineun onggiui mulseongpyeongga" 발효식품의 품질에 미치는 옹기의 물성평가 [Property evaluation of onggi on the quality of fermented food]. Nongnimbu, 2004
  • Jeong Byeongrak. 옹기와의대화 [Conversation with Onggi]. Dongkwang Publisher 동광출판사. 1998. OCLC 41132937.
  • Lee Hoonseok and Chung Yangmo. Onggi. Daewonsa. 1993. OCLC 27170579.
  • Moon Yongrin 문용린 and Oh Hyeonseok 오현석, "A study on the actual state of scarce resources and the extinctive process", Gyoyuk Gwahak Gisulbu 교육기술과학부. [Ministry of Education, Science and Technology], 2004
  • Robert Sayers (1987). The Korean Onggi Potter (PDF). Smithsonian Institution Press.

External links[edit]