San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum is featuring a fascinating exhibit on royal artifacts from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The exhibit in Lee Gallery is titled From Birth to the Throne where some of the oldest surviving pottery is on display, royal placenta jars. After the birth of a royal, their placenta and umbilical cord were sealed in porcelain jars like the ones pictured above.
“The selection of artworks in Lee Gallery illustrates the lifestyles and rituals of kings during the Joseon dynasty, from birth to the throne. One unique Korean ritual was the making of placenta jars. Immediately after birth, the tissue surrounding the royal baby, including the placenta and umbilical cord, was placed in a set of jars and kept in a special chamber for the symbolic protection and well-being of the family member throughout life. In the late 15th century, placenta jars of white porcelain took on standardized forms—taller than previous types, and distinctively decorated with four loops on the shoulders, like the placenta jars of Princess Myeong-an in Lee Gallery.” (source)