Ippo Harada e-Garatsu Chawan

Potter: Ippo Harada

Approximate size: W5.0″ by H3.1″ or 12.7 by 7.8 cm

This is a e-Garatsu or brushstroke decorated chawan by the famous Karatsu potter Ippo Harada. Ippo Harada works from his kiln located in Karatsu, Saga prefecture. The kiln is called Shinzanji-kama and is active to this day. Karatsu pottery that is decorated or has any type of brushwork is called e-Garatsu. With this bowl it is a slightly abstract decoration which leaves the meaning open to interpretation. I see a hooded character with long eyebrows and a beard. A hermit perhaps?

While there are many accounts about the origin of Karatsu ware, it is regarded to have been first created in the territory of and under the protection of Hata clan who were settled at Kishidake castle from the end of the Muromachi era to the Momoyama era (16th & 17th century). Thereafter production of Karatsu ware increased with the influx of potters from Chōsen (nowadays better known as Korea), who were brought back to Japan after Japan’s Chōsen expedition by Hideyoshi Toyotomi during the 1590’s.

Brush decorated Karatsu ware or e-Garatsu

Patterns such as plants, trees, flowers, birds and people are painted on the raw clay using Oniita (one of the minerals including iron compound). Feldspathic and limestone glazes are poured over the clay mixture before it is fired to produce e-Garatsu. 

Clay used for making Karatsu ware is mainly clay from Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture, southern Japan, known as “Suname” (in Japanese, “suna” means sand and “me” means eye). The name “Suname” arises not because sand is mixed into the clay but derives from the rough texture of the material. The second most commonly used clay is fine “Suname”, which is strongly adhesive. This clay has constituents that are rich in iron and others that are not. The former becomes blackish brown after the firing process. As the latter becomes close to white upon firing and pictures drawn on this part of the clay develop a vivid colour.

The chawan is signed by the potter and condition is excellent, no chips or cracks. Comes with the original quality paulownia tomobako, storage box with kiln stamp and calligraphy on the side of the box and a dedicated tomonunu or tea cloth. Please note that the lid of the box is slightly warped as seen in the photo below.

€175 + shipping cost

There is a saying attributed to several tea masters (including Sen no Rikyu), regarding the ranking of tea ware. “First Ido, Second Raku, Third Karatsu —when referring to ceramic ware used for the Japanese tea ceremony. It is considered one of the top styles of pottery for use in tea ceremonies in Japan. Ido referring to Ido style chawan from Korea.

A variation of the above can be seen in the Japanese proverb on topic of wares used in the Tea ceremony. “Ichi-Raku, Ni-Hagi, San-Karatsu.” Loosely translated, here the saying ranks Raku first, followed by Hagi and thirdly Karatsu utensils.