Karatsu (Saga and Nagasaki Prefectures, Kyushu).
A high-fired ceramic, well known for its underglaze iron paintings; originated sometime in 15th-16th century with Korean potters. The only family dating back to those days still making Karatsu today is the famous Nakazato family. They have an unbroken lineage of fourteen generations.
With the introduction of porcelain to Saga Prefecture in the 17th century, however, and porcelain's subsequent rise to great popularity, Karatsu ware suffers a long decline. The style has undergone a revival of sorts in the modern age, thanks largely to Nakazato Muan (Nakazato Taroemon XII, 1895-1985). He was named a Living National Treasure in 1976 for his Karatsu work.
There are eight basic kinds of Karatsu:
- oku-korai (simple, unembellished Karatsu)
- madara (speckled; blue spots of straw ash glaze)
- e-Garatsu (iron or copper glaze and coated with translucent glaze)
- hori (carved)
- chosen (Korean-style; coated with straw ash glaze called warabaiyu)
- ao Karatsu (green)
- ki Karatsu (yellow)
- kuro Karatsu (black)
Karatsu ware is also characterized by a paddling technique known as tatakizukuri, in which strings of clay are stacked on a wheel. The outside is then paddled into shape while the inside is supported by battens. This technique likely originated in Korea.
Today there are over 50 kilns making Karatsu in Karatsu City, Takeo City, and Higashi-Matsura Gun.
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Oku Korai by Nakagawa Jinenbo; Ao Karatsu by Nakazato Taroemon XII; Ao Karatsu (Unknown Artist); Nakazato Taroemon XII