Bulbous Karatsu ware jar

From Karatsu, Hizen Province (modern Saga prefecture), Japan
Edo period, 17th century AD

White crackled glaze

Several styles of pottery and porcelain were introduced into the island of Kyūshū and south-western Honshū by immigrants from nearby Korea in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Much of the pottery was simple and unobtrusive, but it was particularly favoured by Teamasters. This crackled white-ware was one of the types made at the kilns of Karatsu to the north of the famous porcelain centre of Arita. Interesting glaze effects were produced by the near-random way in which it was dipped in the glaze, leaving an unglazed area on the base where it was held.

It is not quite clear what the function of this piece was, but it is likely that it was used as a kensui (slop-jar). It was certainly admired and loved, as witnessed by the gold and silver lacquer repairs to the rim.

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More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Height: 150.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA F1804+


Gift of Sir A.W. Franks


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