Karatsu Tea Bowl with Spout

Edo Period, 18./19. Century

Inv. Nr. #22.003
Date Edo period (1603-1868), 18./19. C.
Material Glazed stoneware, iron oxide painting
Dimensions H 6,7 x W 17,2 x D 12,0 cm

Price: EUR 3,500

Karatsu ceramics are a celebrated form of Japanese pottery known for their rustic elegance and traditional charm. Originating from the Karatsu city in Saga Prefecture, these ceramics date back to the 16th century. They were heavily influenced by Korean pottery techniques introduced to Japan by Korean potters brought over during the Japanese invasions of Korea.


Karatsu ware is characterized by a simple yet profound aesthetic. Originally created for everyday use, pieces often feature simple natural glazes and understated decorations that reflect the wabi-sabi philosophy of beauty in imperfection. Common glazes used in Karatsu ceramics include ash glaze and iron underglaze, which contribute to their earthy and subtle tones.


Over the centuries, various styles of Karatsu ware have developed, including the picture Karatsu (e-karatsu) with iron underglaze brush painting and the Mishima Karatsu, characterized by inlaid designs. These ceramics are highly prized for tea ceremonies, everyday use, and by collectors for their historical and cultural significance, which is summed up in the famous saying, "First Raku, second Hagi, third Karatsu". When referring to ceramics used for the Japanese tea ceremony, Karatsu is considered one of the top styles of pottery in ancient Japan.


This unusual shoe-shaped (kutsu-gata) tea bowl displays both of the distinctive features of the Karatsu style. Its beautifully distorted shape with softly curved rims exemplifies the beauty of simplicity, while the spout (kata-kuchi) plays with the feature of Karatsu ware once created for common households. The playfulness of this tea bowl lies in the tension between being a highly prized tea ceremony item and a simple kitchen utensil.